I undertake fast on every Ekadashi and visit the temple. I get the Prasada (Anna Prasada) from the temple but I am in a predicament as to whether to partake of it or not, as on one hand the Lord and His Prasad are no different, and on the other hand, on Ekadashi day, one should abstain from eating rice. What should I do?

You can avoid the predicament by visiting any other Vishnu temple that does not serve ‘anna’ Prasad on Ekadashi day

Does Ekadasi Upavasa mean that we have to fast the entire day, or is it okay to take in something (except rice)? I drink coffee every morning and evening. Does this spoil my Upavasa?

There are different grades in observing Ekadasi Upavasa. Take one meal on a dasami day, fast completely (without even a drop of water) on Ekadasi day, and take one meal on the Dwadasi day. In this, if the Shravana Nakshatra falls on the Dvadasi day, then you should observe complete fast on that day too. On the Ekadasi day, you should not sleep at least until midnight. This is the most ideal.

Anything less than this is okay, as long as you don’t consume rice on Ekadasi day.

What is ‘Mohini Ekadasi’?

In Rukmangada Charitra, once a Mohini tried to entice Rukmangada. When the Mohini was relieved of her sins (‘shapa vimochana’), she requested that on those Ekadsai days, which have ‘puchcham’ (extension to the next day as a residue), a portion of the ‘phala’ (merits) be granted to her. Hence such and Ekadasi is called ‘Mohini Ekadasi’.

My grandson wants to know how the Ekadasi fast started and why we observe it. Please enlighten me.

The origin is in the Shastras. The shastras prescribe certain Vratas (fasts) that one has to observe during his lifetime. Some of these are optional while the others are compulsory. Ekadasi is one such compulsory ‘vrata’.

I made a mistake - I forgot and somehow missed Ekadasi fast. I am feeling terrible because I had rice. What must I do for Krishna to forgive me?

There is nothing to forgive because mistakes done unknowingly are not considered as mistakes. However, in future observe the Vratha with proper shraddha.