Pune, May 29, 2020: For the first time this year, the Ashadhi Wari Palkhi (pilgrimage on foot) ceremony has been cancelled due to the Coronavirus outbreak. For the first time in history, the festival, which has a tradition of hundreds of years, has to be cancelled.
However, the Paduka of Mauli Dnyaneshwar Maharaj and Sant Tukaram will be taken for the darshan of Shri Vitthal in Pandharpur in Solapur district. They will be taken in a vehicle or helicopter but no decision has yet been made yet. Deputy Chief Minister and Pune District Guardian Minister Ajit Pawar said that “it would be my responsibility that Padukas reach Pandharpur.”
The decision was taken at a meeting held in Pune today. All the participants on behalf of the Warkari sect said that the decision was taken unanimously. As many as 10 lakh devotees from Maharashtra walk to Pandharpur during the Palkhi procession. It is considered to be the biggest festival in the cultural and social life of Maharashtra.
Pandharpur Wari or Wari, is an annual pilgrimage to the town of Pandharpur, which is the seat of Hindu God Vithoba in the Indian state of Maharashtra, in honour of the deity. Palakhi or Palkhi (palanquin processions) carrying the paduka (foot prints) of the deity and various saints, most notably Dnyaneshwar and Tukaram from the Warkari sect, are taken from their respective shrines to Pandharpur. Warkari is a Marathi term which means “one who performs the Wari” or “one who venerates the Vithoba”. The tradition is more than 700 to 800 years old.
The two most revered palakhis, Saint Dnyaneshwar’s palakhi leaves from the town of Alandi, while Saint Tukaram’s begins at Dehu; both these towns are located in Pune district of Maharashtra. This march on foot from various locations in Maharashtra to Vithoba temple, Pandharpur, attracts over a million pilgrims. The journey takes 21 days. Numerous palakhis join the main Tukaram and Dnyaneshwar palakhis along the way. The Wari culminates at the Vithoba temple on the holy occasion of Ashadhi Ekadashi. Devotees from all over Maharashtra and nearby areas set out for Pandharpur, wearing holy basil beads and singing the glories of Vithoba and songs like “Gyanba Tukaram”, commemorating the saints. Upon reaching Pandharpur on Ashadhi Ekadashi, these devotees take a holy dip in the sacred Chandrabhaga River/Bhima River before proceeding to visit the Vitthal Temple.