Devotees of Lord Vishnu observe Ekadashi Vrata and engage in remembering the Supreme Lord by chanting His Holy Names and singing His glories. Ekadashi is the eleventh day of the fortnight of the waxing or waning moon and occurs twice in a month. But the Ekadashi that occurs in the month of Margashirsha (December – January) during the fortnight of waxing moon is of special significance, and is glorified as Vaikuntha Ekadashi. This is a major festival of South India celebrated in all the temples of Lord Vishnu.
Nammalwar, one of the great devotees in the Sri Sampradaya (the disciplic succession descending from Lakshmi Devi) went back to Godhead on this day. To commemorate this event, in all the Vishnu temples, the Vaikuntha Dwara (the gate to Vaikuntha) a special entrance in the north side of the temple is opened once in a year on this particular day. It is believed that anyone who enters the Vaikuntha Dwara on this day is guaranteed to attain the spiritual abode.
Sri Vaikuntha Ekadashi Celebrations
3:00 AM: Suprabhata Seva.
Devotees chant Venkateshwara Suprabhata Stotram to wake up the Lord. Sri Srinivasa Govinda is offered a grand arati with dhoopa (incense), deepa (ghee lamps), arghya, vastra, pushpa (fragrant flowers), chamara and vyajana.
3:45 AM: Abhishekam for the moolavar Deity of Sri Srinivasa Govinda.
A grand abhishekam is performed for the moolavar Deity of Sri Srinivasa Govinda. Devotees chant Brahma Samhita and various other prayers as the Lord is bathed with panchamrita, panchagavya, fruit juices, herbal water, and various other auspicious items.
5:00 AM: Vaikuntha Dwara Ceremony.
The northern gate to the main temple hall is decorated as Vaikuntha Dwara. The Deities of Sri Radha Krishnachandra adorned as Lakshmi Narayana are taken in a procession to the Vaikuntha Dwara and seated there on a swing.
The darshan is open from 8:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. Over one lakh devotees visit the temple on this day for the darshan of the Lord and to pass through the Vaikuntha Dwara.
Special arrangements are made for preparation and distribution of prasadam. With an estimate of over a lakh devotees visiting the temple to receive the blessings of Lord Srinivasa Govinda, arrangements are made to provide free prasadam to all. In addition, prasadam arrangements for breakfast, lunch and dinner for the convenience of staff, media personnel, security personnel and other volunteers will also be made.
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