Anantha Chaturdashi is observed on the 14th day of the Waxing Phase of moon (Shukla Paksha), in the month of Bhadrapada of the Chandramana Calendar (Lunar Calendar) in honor of Lord Vishnu in the lying posture (Ananta Shayana) on the bed formed by Anantashesha (Adishesha – the serpent with 1000 hoods). The Vrata performed on this day is thus called Ananta Padmanabha Vrata.
“Ananta” : indicates that which is endless. Shesha means that which remains after everything ends. Lord Krishna in Bhagavad Gita (10:29) anantahcha asmi naam (Among Nagas I am the Ananta). Ananta’s 1000 heads symbolizes Jnana (Knowledge) and heightened state of Awareness. Lord Vishnu reclining on the bed formed by coiling of Ananta, indicates Ananta as a Perfect Yogic posture, uniting opposing forces of Stira (Rigidity) and Sukha (Comfort) Bola Deposit Pulsa: Patanjali Yoga sutra : “Stiram Sukham Asanam“.
When Yudhistra asks of Lord Krishna for solutions for easing of their suffering and regaining their kingdom and wealth, Lord Krishna advises performing Anantha Padmanabha Vrata every year for 14 years on the 14th Day of Bhadrapada Month, as prescribed in the Bhavishyottara Purana. At the end of 14 years and the vrata has to be concluded with Udyapane.
Seven number of Darbha (Kusa) Grass is tied together to represent 7 hoods of Anantha. Lord Vishnu is worshipped with 14 types of pushpam (flowers), 14 types of patram (leaves), 14 types of Phalam (fruits). 28 numbers of Atirasa/Kajjaya forms the Naivedyam (Sweet made of Jaggery and Wheat/Rice Flour) of which 14 is given away as daana (charity to Brahmin).
Another important requirement of Naivedya (and all Prasada) is that it has to be soft (maybe it is practice limited to some) – there are no hard sweets or eatables prepared on this day.
Another important aspect of this vrata is the Dora Granthi darane (also called Ananta Daara). Puja is performed with Turmeric, Kumkum, Akshate and other rituals to this sacred thread made of 14 strands with 14 knots which is then tied on the right hand which acts as a Raksha to the wearer and this is worn until replaced the next year. (In some families unmarried children wear the earlier year’s daara worn by the parents which is replaced by new ones). Generally it is worn on the right wrists by both men and the women (our practice). But there is a practice of women wearing it on their left wrists while the men wear it on the right wrist.
The puja culminates by recital of Sri Vishnu Sahasra Nama Stotram, Purusha Sooktam, Sri Vishnu Sooktam & Mahamangalarati.