The last five days of Shukla Paksha (bright half) of Magha Month are traditionally known as Bhishma Panchaka or Vishnu Panchaka Vrata. Bhishma Pitamaha observed fasting for these five days in order to give up his life. In 2014, Bhishma Panchaka Vrata begins on February 10 and ends on February 14 in Magha Masam.
As per the Hari Bhakti Vilasa, those who observe fasting on Ekadashi would please the Lord. It is to note that Bhishma Panchaka Vrata is also observed in Kartika Month – Kartik Ekadashi to Kartika Purnima.
On Bhishma Ekadashi, the fasting should begin by remembering Bhishma Pitamaha and should end on Purnima (Magha Pournami). According to Padma Purana, Ekadashi vrat observance makes one spiritually more advanced.
Some staunch devotees observe the fasting by just taking milk or water for the five days. It is said that one should only eat once a day as part of Bhishma Panchaka.
Those who observe Bhishma Panchaka Vrata would get the result of observing all the Vratas that are mentioned in Puranas and all other Scriptures. Therefore, everyone should make a great endeavor to fast on these last five days of Bhishma Pitamaha.
One should eat only vegetables or fruits and should worship Lord Krishna. If he needs to eat, he should do so only in the evening. A woman can also observe this fast by the suggestion of a twice-born, and if a widow observes this fast, she can also attain liberation and happiness.
The best way of performing Bhishma Panchaka Vrata is to take only the five products of the cow (Pancha Gavya) on each of the five days. Devotees should avoid grains and beans. Only fruits and roots are preferable.
Bhishma Panchaka Fasting, Upvaas from Bhishma Ekadashi to Magha Purnima / Kartika Ekadashi to Kartika Purnima
The fasting is broken at moon rise on Purnima day. It is recommended to do full fast on Ekadasi and then the following four days fruits and roots fasting Or five day fruits and roots fasting.
In 2013, Bhishma Panchaka Vrata begins on February 21 and ends on February 25 in Magha Masam.