Vaikunta Ekadashi is one of the most important Ekadasis. Ekadasi is an auspicious day dedicated to Bhagvan Srihari Vishnu and falls on the eleventh day of every lunar fortnight in traditional Hindu calendar.
Vaikunta Ekadasi festival is more elaborately celebrated by Vaishnavites. It is more prominent for Tamil and Telugu speaking people. Fasting, keep vigil at night and passing through the Vaikunta Dwaram are the important auspicious activities on the day.
Vaikunta Ekadasi is celebrated with great importance in Tirupati Balaji Temple, Srirangam Ranganathaswamy Temple, and Bhadrachalam Sita Ramachandraswamy temple. Apart from these temples, all the temples dedicated to Bhagvan Vishnu and his incarnations in South India celebrate Vaikunta Ekadasi.
The most important ritual on the day in temples is the opening of the Vaikunta Dwaram/door in Vishnu Temples. This door is only opened on the Vaikunta Ekadasi day and devotees are allowed to pass through it. Symbolically the door leads to the Vaikunta – abode of Vishnu.
In some temples, this festival is celebrated over five days with special Pujas on all days. Devotees also get a chance to go through a sanctified entrance called “Vaikuntha Dwaaram” (doorway to “heaven”) on the Vaikunta Ekadasi day and participate in the continuous chanting of the Vishnu Sahasranamam (one thousand names of Lord Vishnu).
Lord Venkateshwara opened the gate of Vaikunta (his abode) for two demons in spite of they being against the Lord. They asked for the boon that who ever listens to their story and sees the image of Lord coming out of the door called Vaikunta Dwara, will reach Vaikunta. For the same reason, temples all over India make a door kind of structure on this day for devotees to pass through.
The day is observed as a very sacred day by all the Vishnu bhaktas and many people fast on that day. It is believed that by observing a fast on that day and spending the day in poojas and prayers to Lord Vishnu, one will be absolved of all sins and will attain Moksha and the doors of Vaikunta will be kept open for the soul after it leaves this physical body. The soul does not have a rebirth anymore and attains the feet of the Supreme Lord.
Prayers to Lord Vishnu.
Shaantakaaram bhujaga shayanam padmanaabham suresham
Vishwadhaaram gagana-sadrisham megha-varanam shubhaangam.
Lakshmi-kaantam kamala-nayanam yogi-bhi-dhyaana-agamyam
Vande vishnum bhava-bhaya-haram sarva-lokaika-naatham.