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"Chathurmas" is the period of 4 months from Ashaad Shukla Ekadashi (Ekadashi during the bright half of Ashadh-shayan Ekadashi),(Gods Seep) to Kartika shukla Dwadashi (dwadashi during the bright half of Kartika-Utthana-Ekadashi)(Gods wakeup).
Chaturmas Vrat is observed by all - Karmis, Gyanis, Yogis and Devotees,for the attainment of their respective desires.During this period sleeping on the floor is considered highly auspiceous.Observing Maun Vrat (keeping silent)and spending time in worshipping Lord Vishnu is fruitful.
During this period, Mahavishnu remains in yogic sleep (Yoga Nidra)and the Hindu gods and goddesses are also at rest,who get angry if disturbed during this period.
It is observed, not to organise any auspicious ceremonies like marriages,thread ceremonies,occupying new residence,establishing a shrine or other auspicious activities.The ceremonies can be initiated from the 11th day of Kartik month(October),after the end of Chaturmas.
Chaturmas Vrat is not very hard and fast but the hardcore devotees observe the vrat very strictly,as mentioned here-
The devotee gets up before sunrise,takes holy bath and worships Lord Vishnu.Chatrumas Vrat fast is observed ie no food items such as milk,jaggery,curd,oil,brinjals ,leafy vegetables, salty,spicy food ,sweet dishes meat and hard liquors are consumed.
Some devotees observe the fast monthwise,
Shravan month - avoid leafy vegetables,
Bhadrapad month - curd is avoided.
Ashwin month - milk is avoided,
Karthik month - udit dal is avoided.
Vishnu Maha puja is performed,by giving a sacred bath to the Idol of Lord Vishnu(Abhishek), by chanting the mantras i.e. Vishnu Sahasranama and stotras etc.
Chaturmas is believed to be the night of Lord Vishnu, So,Vishnu devotees listen to his stories,also recite them to others,through stories or hymns(bhajans).
On the final day of Chaturmas Vrata (Utthana Ekadasi or Kartik Shukla Ekadashi), the devotee offers Dakshina (includes food, clothes and other daily commodities) to a Brahmin and gets his blessings.
Many devotees read the epics Mahabharat,Ramayan, Bhagwad Gita and Bhagwad Puran.There are also few devotees who daily attend the religeous activities in the temple.Devotees spend time in helping the poor and maintaining the Vishnu temples.
The King of Gods,Indra was sitting in his palace, in heaven.Indradeva became very proud of himself and forgot the true source of his power.
On the other hand,Bali the son of the Asura king,Virochana,vowed to purify himself of all evil and got involved in a rigorous penance.With this, the Daitya superceded the Devas and Indra was dethroned.
Indra,with other devas,soon approached and requested Lord Vishnu to save him.Agreeing to his request,Vishnu took the form of Vaman, 8 year old Brahman boy(batuk). Shiva Bhagavan takes a similar form in his Batuk Bhairava rupa.
Lord Vishnu visited Bali,who received him with great pleasure and offered him a gift.Vishnu asked for enough land to cover three steps.Looking at the little legs of the Batuk, Bali started laughing and told him to ask for a bigger thing.
Vishnu was stubborn and stuck to his demand, so Bali granted the strange request.Soon, Lord Vishnu got transformed in to a huge form,with one stride on the Earth and second in the heavens.
Laughingly he asked Bali ' I have covered everything and still have one step to go. Where shall I keep it? ' Bali soon realized who he was and immediately offered his own head for keeping the third step.Vishnu placed the third step and pushed Bali back down to 'Narak' again.
Vishnu was pleased with Bali and offered him a wish.Bali requested that Vishnu together with consort Lakshmi Mata should come and live with him one third of the year.
Vishnu agreed and during this time, Vishnu is considered to be asleep. Thus the start of Chaturmas is called Devashayani Ekadashi and the day Bhagavan wakes up and Chaturmas ends is called Devprabodhini Ekadashi.
Whomsoever will hear this Katha (story) of the great Bhakta Bali and practice the Chaturmas Vrat will have the blessings of Vishnu Bhagavan forever.
The fasting results
01) No salt - gives good voice texture.
02) No oil - gives long life.
03) No raw fruits & Vegetables - gives purity.
04) No betal nuts - gives happiness.
05) No yogert or milk - gives peace.
06) No honey - gives lustre.
07) No intoxicating liquors - gives sound health.
08) No hot food - gives the children long life.
09) Rest on ground - gives shelter of Lord Vishnu.
10) No meat - gives power of yogi and muni.
11) One meal a day - gives results of an Agnihotra.
12) Eat at noon only - gives entry to Devalok.
13) Eat at night only - gives the pleasure of pilgrimage.
14) Touch the lotus feet of Deity - gives success.
15) Cleaning the God temple - gives good house.
16) Circumambulation the temple - gives Moksha.
17) Singing in temple - gives entry in Gardharvalok.
18) Studying the shastras - gives Vishnulok.
19) Sprinkle water in temple - gives entry in Apsaralok.
20) Worship Lord Vishnu - gives Vaikuntha.
21) Practice of yoga - gives Moksha.
22) Eating on floor without dish - gives power.
23) Eat on a leaf - gives pleasure of l Kurukshetra.
24) Daily bath - gives heaven.
25) No bad words - gives commanding position.