Jagaran is a Sanskrit term used to refer to staying awake at night during certain nights in a month or year in Hinduism. This keeping of vigil at night is associated with important monthly vrats like Ekadasi and yearly festivals like Mahashivratri. Jagaran is also observed as part of certain vrats only followed in certain regions and by certain communities. Religious importance of it is mainly associated with Ekadasi fasting dedicated to Lord Vishnu.
Jagarana on Ekadasi
It believed that those who observe Ekadasi fasting dedicated to Lord Vishnu should keep vigil at night and meditate on Lord Vishnu. Ekadasi is observed on the 11th day of a fortnight as per traditional Hindu lunar calendar.
As per the legend associated with Ekadasi fasting, demon Mura attempted to harm Vishnu at night and suddenly a young girl appeared from the body of Bhagavan Vishnu and she annihilated the demon. Vishnu called her Ekadasi. Jagaran on ekadasi night is based on this incident.
While performing Jagaran, a devotee should meditate, read stories, chant the name of the Lord, sing his glories, listen to stories or participate in satsangs.
In some regions during Jagaran, devotees assemble in a sacred place, temple or house and read stories or sing devotional songs especially those composed by Haridasas – enlightened devotees of Vishnu.
Staunch Vishnu devotees end Jagaran in the morning with nartana seva – where all members form a circle and dance. While dancing, the devotees carry on their head a plate filled with Tulsi or basil leaves which was earlier offered to Vishnu. This seva is also known as Harivanaseva. After this, the group breaks up.
Jagran on Shivratri
It is widely believed that Shiva, the formless supreme truth, took form and appeared on the Shivratri night. This form was known as Lingodabhavamurti – a huge column of fire with no beginning or end. So people perform Jagran on Mahashivratri night. Shiva devotees assemble at a Shiva temple and keep pouring water on the Shivling, listen to stories of Shiva, read Shiva Puran, chant prayers and meditate on the mantra Om Namah Shivaya.
Jagran is also kept by Shiva devotees on Krishna Paksha Chaturadasi or the 14th day during the waning phase of moon in a Hindu lunar month.
Vigil at night is also kept during Kalbhairav Ashtami and Kalashtami.
Another important jagran is observed during the Jaya ParvatiVrat in Gujarat.
Jagran is also kept once in a year in certain temples and sacred places – mostly associated with some temple legend.
It is also a practice to not to sleep if someone is bitten by snake in the family. Relatives and family members stay awake to keep the snake bitten person from not dozing off.