Nirjala Ekadashi, also known as Pandava or Bhim Ekadasi, occurs during the waxing phase of moon in the month of Jyestha (May – June). The greatness of this Ekadasi was explained to Bhima, the second Pandava brother, by sage Vyasa. Hence the Ekadasi is also referred as Pandav or Bhim Ekadasi. In 2016, the date of Nirjala Ekadashi is June 16.
The significance of Nirjala Ekadasi is mentioned in the Mahabharata and Padma Purana. Draupadi and the Pandavas, except for Bhima, used to observe all the Ekadasis. Bhima, who was a voracious eater, could not bear hunger and used to skip the fasting.
Now, Bhima wanted to observe fast and also eat!! So he enquired to Sage Vyasa to find a way out. But since eating and fasting was impossible, sage Vyasa told about Nirjala Ekadasi, which has all the benefits of observing twenty four ekadasis.
Nirjala Ekadasi is one of the strictest fast in Hindu religion and among all Ekadasis. Nirjala means ‘without water.’
Staunch Vishnu devotees who undertake this fast does not drink water while fasting on the day. No food is also consumed on the day. The fast begins on Ekadasi sunrise and ends on next day sunrise.
It is believed that observing Nirjala Ekadashi provides the benefit of all the other Ekadashis observed in a year. Observing it is also equal to going on pilgrimage. Above all, upon death, people who have observed Nirjala Ekadashi are received by messengers from Vaikunta and not by Yama, the god of death.
It is strictly advised by elders and doctors that those people having poor health condition (diseases), those undertaking medicines, pregnant women and those who have just delivered baby should not attempt to observe Nirjala Ekadasi. One should never torture the body in the name of customs and religious traditions.