Article by Irfan Ali
In Pantheism (AADOO), it is believed that One Universal Spirit pervades all animate or inanimate things.
God, the Omnipresent dwells in everything and everything is in him. So trees or beasts, rivers or deities are all worshipped. It is this conception of God or Reality that underlies the worship of trees.
India has been and is an agricultural country, and the vital role of the trees in daily life is all too evident. Most festivals and rituals in India therefore are closely connected to the seasonal and harvesting cycles.
One such day is the Amalaki Ekadashi. On Amalaki Ekadashi day the Amla tree (Emblica Officinalis) is worshipped. It is believed that Hari himself resides in this tree.
This day also marks the beginning of Holi festival.
Amalaki Ekadashi is observed during the waxing phase of the moon in Phagun month (February – March). An interesting story of Amalaki Ekadashi was once narrated by Sage Vasishta and is found in the Brahmanda Purana. People who observe a fast on this day listen to a recital of Amalaki Ekadasi Vrat Katha during the fast.
Once there was a prosperous kingdom named Vaidisa and it was ruled by King Chaitraratha. He was an ardent devotee of Lord Vishnu and the people in the entire kingdom were very rich and had no worries. All this was due to the blessings of Lord Vishnu.
Once, on Amalaki Ekadashi the king and the people in the kingdom went to a Vishnu Temple located on a riverbank and made offerings to Lord Vishnu and an Amalaki Tree (Gooseberry) in the temple premises. The king also made offerings to Lord Parashurama.
The king and his followers remained awake during the night. A hungry hunter came there and impressed by the devotion of the people present there he joined in the bhajans and did not sleep that night. Next morning the hunter had a renewed and refreshed feeling and he went home and had his meal.
One day King Vasurath, during one of his hunting expeditions lost his way and was caught by tribal people. They considered the king as their enemy and started to torture him with swords and spears. But, to their surprise none of the weapons touched the king and he did not feel any pain nor did he have any injury.
The stunned tribal people heard a voice from the sky which said that the King is blessed by Lord Vishnu as he had observed the Amalaki Ekadasi and so you will not be able to harm him. The king was set free by the tribal.
The king later learned from a saint about his previous incarnation and started observing the Ekadasi Vrat.
The story explains that devotional acts performed without any desires will help in this birth and all other births. The hunter performed Amalaki Ekadasi without wanting any favor – he just performed it as he felt to do it and this was amply rewarded by Lord Vishnu.
In Mewar, this festival hosts a mela at Gangu Kund Mahasatiya and the potters from Gogunda come with “matki” and other earthen vessels. The water and other vessels of the houses are replaced with new ones with the change in season.