Vaikunth Chaturdashi is the only day in a year when both Lord Vishnu and Lord Shiva are worshiped, which falls on the fourteenth day of the shukla paksh month of Kartik. And it is the day when Shiva rewarded Vishnu with ‘Sudarshan Chakra’. It is also the festival to mark the occasion of Vishnu waking up, out of his four months sleep, devotees lighted the lamps made of flour.
It is considered to be the day on which the doors of Vaikunth (Heaven) will be kept open for the devotees who fast on this day and worship both Shiva and Vishnu. Devotees will be forgiven of all sins and will attain Moksha after leaving the physical body.
When is it observed?
Vaikunth Chaturdashi is observed on chaturdashi, the fourteenth lunar day of the waxing moon fortnight of the Hindu month of Kartik (November–December). The day is worshiped to Lord Vishnu and Lord Shiva. They are worshiped individually or together in different temples in Varanasi, Rishikesh, Gaya and Maharashtra.
Vaikunth Chaturdashi is celebrated on Tuesday 24th November 2015, one day before Kartik Poornima.
As per the legend of Vaikunth Chaturdashi, Vishnu visited the holy city of Varanasi to perform Shiva Pooja.
Lord Vishnu wanted to offer 1000 lotus flowers to Shiva. In order to test Vishnu’s bhakti, Lord Shiva hid one flower. Lord Vishnu recognized that one flower is missing and offered his lotus eye as flower to Lord Shiva. Shiva pleased with the utmost devotion of Vishnu and appeared in front of him. Lord Shiva then said that Kartik Shukla Chaturdashi will be known as Kartik Vaikunth Chaudas. Lord Shiva offered the Sudarshan Chakra-the divine disc to Lord Vishnu and told that this weapon will destroy the devils and there will be no weapons to match this ‘Sudarshan Chakra’ in the three worlds.
Lord Vishnu and Lord Shiva said that on this day, the doors of heaven will be opened. A person fasting on this day would secure his place in heaven.
After the Mahabharat war, Lord Sri Krishna on the day of Kartik Shukla Chaturdashi for the souls of deceased persons had arranged Shraadh Tarpan. Hence in Scriptures this day has the great importance for Shraadh Tarpan.
A significant aspect of this festival is that on the Vaikunth Chaturdashi day a special place is allotted to Vishnu in the sanctum of the golden Viswanath temple, a prominent Lord Shiva temple in Varanasi, and people are told that it is the ‘Vaikunth’ (heavenly abode). Both Vishnu and Shiva are worshiped together on this occasion; belapatra is offered to Vishnu and tulsi leaves to Shiva. It is believed that on this occasion gods Vishnu and Shiva worship each other. The Vaikunth Chaturdashi is hence considered an important festival.
The festival is also celebrated as Kartik Snaan (bathing in a holy river or stream during the kartik month) by Vishnu devotees.
Vaikunth Chaturdashi is celebrated with zest in Vaishnavite temples. Devotees offer 1000 flowers to Vishnu and special prayers are recited during the Pooja. Vishnu Sahasranama, Vishnu Ashtottaram, Vishnu Stuti and the Vishnu Purana are recited on this day.
Most of the temples in Varanasi observe Vaikunth Chaturdashi and it falls one day before of another significant ritual of Dev Diwali. Apart from Varanasi, Vaikunth Chaturdashi is also observed in Rishikesh, Gaya and many cities in Maharashtra.
The holy day Vaikunth Chaturdashi is also observed in Maharashtra by the Marathas as per the custom set by Shivaji and his mother Jijabai for this occasion and by the Gaud Saraswat Brahmins, though in a slightly different format.
It is also prominently celebrated in Vishnu temples like Sri Ranga (Tamil Nadu), Tirupati Srinivasa temple (Andhra Pradesh), Udupi Sri Krishna Mutt (Karnataka) and many more.
On the day of Vaikunth Chaturdashi, a holy dip in Ganges before Sunrise and at Manikarnika Ghat in Varanasi is considered very significant among devotees of Lord Shiva.
Special poojas and rituals are held on the day by certain communities to Shiva and Vishnu.
On the night of ‘Vaikunth Chaturdashi’, Kamleswar Mahadev Temple of Srinagar, witnesses scores of childless couples praying with lighted ‘Diya’ for fertility. It is said that Lord Shiva always answers their prayers.