Ananta Vrata, dedicated to Lord Vishnu, is observed on the fourteenth day of the bright fortnight of Bhadrapad month. It is believed that Lord Vishnu appeared on this day as Anantapadmanabha – Lord Vishnu’s Ananta Sayana form – reclining on Snake Ananta. The Vratam is also known as Anantachaturdasi Vrata and Anandapadmanabha Vrata and in 2013 it is on September 18.
The observance of Ananta Vrata is believed to secure freedom from all sorrows. The word ‘Ananta’ means endless and devotees believe that Lord Narayana will clear all the difficulties in one’s life, if the Ananta Vrata is observed with utmost devotion. Some people observe this Vrata continuously for 14 years. The Ananta Shayna form of Lord Vishnu is worshipped on this day. The reclining posture represents the state of inactivity and is the form of Narayana prior to the evolution of the worlds and creation of the living beings.
The main ritual on the day is the tying of a sacred thread. The thread is first sanctified by placing it along with the idol of Lord Vishnu in the reclining form. The thread is peppered with kum kum and then men tie it on their right hand and women on their left hand. This thread is referred as ‘Ananta Daram.’ In strict sense, Ananta Daram is a cotton band formed of fourteen threads. In some places, the band consists of 14 knots. Women tie the Anant Daram on their left hand and men on their right. Serpent Ananta is also made using Dhurva grass and is placed on a bamboo basket and worshipped in some places.
There are references about the Vrata in Mahabharata. Shri Krishna advised Yudhishtara to observe Ananta Vrata for 14 years to get back his kingdom.