Temple hours on Guruvayur Ekadashi
On the whole day of Ekadashi, the temple remains open for the devotees. Opening its doors on Dashami day (the day before Ekadashi) at 3 am, the temple remains open till 09 am on Dwadashi (the day after Ekadashi) day. The special event of the day is Uthayasthamana Puja or what can be described as puja from dawn to dusk.
The day for temple elephants
Lord Guruvayurappan temple at Guruvayur has a large group of elephants dedicated to the temple and the worship of the Lord. On Guruvayur Ekadashi, there is a huge special procession of these elephants.
Ekadashi Vilakku (Guruvayur Ekadashi)
Lighting of a lamp called Ekadashi Vilakku commemorating Guruvayur Ekadashi is the top highlight of this event. The Ekadashi Vilakku is lit a month before Ekadashi and is made to burn continuously till the event.
Tribute to the royal elephant
The temple had a chief elephant called Gajarajan Guruvayur Keshavan, which attained immortal fame even as it was alive and remembered for so long after its demise. It is said the elephant died on Guruvayur Ekadashi day and therefore the elephant is honored and worshiped on this day. The leader of the elephants at the temple maintained at Punnathur Kotta of the temple leads the procession and places a garland on the statue of Guruvayur Keshavan and all the other elephants make a bow in obeisance.
Procession to Parthasarathy temple
A grand march of elephants is organized on the day fo Guruvayur Ekadashi to the nearby temple dedicated to Parthasarathy, a form of Lord Krishna teaching Bhagavad Gita to Arjun. It is said this Ekadashi was the day on which the Bhagavad Gita was delivered to Arjuna and therefore the day is heralded as Geetopadesh day.
The unique custom
On the next day of Guruvayur Ekadashi (Dwadashi), there is a famous custom called as Dwadashi Panam. During this occasion, money is offered at the Koothambalam of the temple. This is considered a token amount of the offering to the Lord and is considered highly auspicious.
Guruvayur Ekadashi Vrat and Puja Vidhi
Observing vrat on the day of Guruvayur Ekadashi is considered very auspicious. The devotees take a holy dip in the morning and visit the temples. Then they sit with their family and friends at their home or the temple and read Vishnu Sahasranamam or Narayaneeyam. All over the day, they do not take any food and thrive only on milk and fruits. The vrat is concluded during Parana of the next day during Dwadashi Thithi. Guruvayur Ekadashi vrat is considered highly auspicious for the spiritual enlightenment of devotees.