Chatur meaning ‘four’ and mas meaning ‘months’ combined as Chaturmas; is an auspicious period of four months which commences on Ashad Sud Ekadashi (the eleventh day of the first bright half of Ashadh) and concludes on Kartik Sud Ekadashi (the eleventh day of the first bright half of Kartik).
During this period of sleep of the Deities, demons become active and begin harassing humans. The scriptures say that, ‘to protect oneself from these demons each one should undertake some Vowed religious observances.’ Hence the Ashad Sud Ekadashi also known as Dev Shayani Ekadashi and Kartik Sud Ekadashi known as Dev Uthi Ekadashi.
Chaturmas is reserved for all disciples to take extra vows such as fasting, scripture recitals, meditation and other religious observances as described by Lord Swaminarayan in the Shikshapatri, slok 76, slok 77 and slok 78.
Chaturmas also disciplines an individual by observing these various fasts and activities and abstaining from the worldly desires. The point of these observances is that one performs them routinely each day. At the beginning of the Chaturmas, you make a promise to the Lord that you will perform these additional vows to please Him, throughout the entire Chaturmas. Therefore, you must choose the vows that you will be able to perform. It is better to do a little, every day, rather than a lot on some days and nothing on another; and it is better not to make a promise to God and then break it.
This year the Chaturmas commences on 27th July 2015 and concludes on 22nd November 2015.