Definition - What does Ekadasi mean?
Ekadasi is spiritual day in Hinduism and Jainism that occurs twice in each lunar month and is marked by fasting or partial fasting. The name is the Sanskrit word for the number 11. The lunar month is divided into two 14-day periods, one when the moon waxes (sukla paksha) and one when the moon wanes (krishna paksha). Ekadasi is the eleventh day of each of these lunar phases.
Fasting varies by tradition with some choosing to avoid all food during Ekadasi, while others avoid all beans and grains and anything made from those ingredients.
Yogapedia explains Ekadasi
The fast begins at sunrise on the eleventh day and continues until sunrise of the following day. Anyone who is ill, pregnant or who would otherwise jeopardize their health is exempt from fasting, but encouraged to eat light meals.
When observing Ekadasi, yogis focus on spiritual pursuits like prayer, chanting and meditation, filling the mind while the stomach remains empty. Some believe that observing Ekadasi removes sin and moves the yogi along on his/her spiritual journey toward the state of moksha, or liberation from the recurring cycle of death and rebirth.