Festival of Haribodhini Ekadashi
Haribodhini Ekadashi is one of the important festivals of Nepal. Although not as popular as Shivaratri or Saraswati Puja, this auspicious occasion dedicated to Lord Vishnu has equal importance like that of Shivaratri to the devotees of Lord Shiva. This day is believed to be the one when Lord Vishnu wakes up from his slumber and presides over the religious rites across the universe. On this occasion, the Seshnarayan temple, along with the other three of the Char Narayan temples are crowded with the devotees to pay their homage to the Lord.
Legend has him guarding the gates of the King Bali in Pataal (the land under earth according to the Hindu literature) as was his turn. It is believed that the folks in heaven (gods and saints) were suspicious of Bali’s generosity and had him deported, literally, down to Pataal, however, the three supreme gods impressed with his generosity and selfless acts, agreed to be his gatekeeper. The holy Trinity of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva took turns, each diving three months in between shifts and according to the holy scriptures, it was Vishnu’s turn.
The major festive celebration on this day happens in the city of Kathmandu itself. Some of the most important shrines of Lord Vishnu are situated in the valley since the time immemorial as the ancient rulers of the city did all they could to make the city prosperous, like designing the city in a way that the four cardinal points would have the shrines of Lord Vishnu guarding the valley. In the past, devotees used to visit all the four temples on this day and that too, on foot, however, with the fast growing modernization and work load, people would be lucky if they could manage to visit any one of them. However, in the past, despite of where they began their holy quest, they always tend to finish it at Sesh Narayan temple as Sesh also meant ‘final’. Those who could not visit all the four temples situated at the four cardinal points of the valley visited the Char Narayan temple in Mangal Bazaar. Also, the Nepali month of Baishak (April- May) is considered auspicious to visit Lord Vishnu‘s shrine in Budanilkantha.