Ekadashi is the eleventh day of the Hindu lunar fortnight, and on this day, Lord Vishnu devotees observe a day-long fast, which usually commences on the eve (Dashami Tithi). Interestingly, some ardent devotees do not even drink water! And most importantly, the consumption of food grains is strictly prohibited. And among the foods that must not be eaten, rice finds a special mention. Besides rice, devotees must also not eat food preparations made of wheat, lentils and pulses.
Why you must not have rice while observing Ekadashi Vrat
The present era (yuga) is called Kaliyuga
. This yuga was preceded by the Dwapar Yuga, Treta Yuga and the Sat Yuga. And the same shall restart after Kaliyuga ends.
As per traditional beliefs, the Kaliyuga is dominated by wicked traits such as greed, hatred, destruction, devastation, anger, discord, violence etc. And it will only end when Lord Vishnu’s tenth avatar, Kalki, arrives. Therefore, those who wish to observe vrat in Kaliyuga find it challenging to perform austerities. Thus, the prohibition of certain foods makes it easier for the Vrati (a person who keeps a vrat).
There is an interesting legend associated with this practice that discourages rice consumption on Ekadashi. Once, a drop of sweat fell from Brahma’s forehead. And it soon turned into a demon. The demon then appealed to Lord Brahma and sought permanent shelter. So Lord Brahma asked him to live in the rice grains that people would consume on the Ekadashi Tithi. Hence, people avoid rice on Ekadashi Tithi. However, there is a reason why people do not have rice on this day.
As per another belief system, the Moon’s gravitational force causes high and low tides on the earth. This is because it attracts the water bodies, thereby causing high waves. And it is said that the position of the Moon on Ekadashi Tithi is unfavorable to the human digestive system. Therefore, food grains with water retaining characteristics are avoided on the day of Ekadashi.
Moreover, the vrat is also kept to attain a sense of calm and detoxify the body. Hence, people must avoid foods that are hard to digest.