Hindu devotees across Nepal are celebrating the Harishayani Ekadashi festival today.
The festival is observed on the first day of the four-month holy period of Chaturmas by fasting and worshipping Lord Vishnu, one of the prominent Hindu deities regarded as the protector of the universe.
Ekadashi or the eleventh lunar day of Shukla Paksha or the bright fortnight of the month of Asar is marked by rituals such as worshipping Lord Vishnu, reciting the Holy Scriptures relating to him and chanting Lord Vishnu-oriented hymns, among others.
On the day of Harishayani Ekadashi, Hindus plant Tulasi/basil (Ocimum tenuiflorum) on their yards, which they worship as a form of Lord Vishnu for the next four months till the day of Haribodhini Ekadashi, the concluding day of the Chaturmas. It is believed that by worshipping the oxygen-rich plant basil, Lord Vishnu grants his devotees their wishes.
The Chaturmas, a period from the 11th day of the waxing moon of the month of Ashadh (Ashadh Shukla Ekadashi) to the 11th day of the waxing moon of the month of Kartik (Kartik Shukla Ekadashi) is considered a holy period for the worship of Lord Vishnu.
There are altogether 24 Ekadashi in the lunar calendar in a year. Of the two dozens of Ekadashis in Ekadashis (Harishayani Ekadashi and Prabodhini Ekasadhi) are considered the great ones.
Devotees observe fasting on this day and visit the Temples dedicated to Lord Vishnu and his incarnations.