For some reason, all these years I had never ventured to actually see and experience the ethos of the Pandharpur Wari but this year I did. And I was quite amazed at its organisation and enthusiasm of Punekars. Brief background: The Pandharpur Wari (aka Palkhi) is an approximately 800 year old tradition wherein devotees of Sant Dynaneshwar and Sant Tukaram walk from Alandi to Pandharpur in the Hindu month of Ashadh (roughly June end or July). It is a very well planned pilgrimage with overnight halts scheduled at cities/towns en-route. People of these towns usually welcome the Warkaris (as the people undertaking the walk are called). Since the event involves lakhs of people, roads are shut for traffic, vehicles redirected and the local administration goes into overdrive to cater to this huge demand on city infrastructure.
2016 saw me walking down to the Fergusson College Road from where the Wari enters Pune to make its halt at the Nivdunga Vithoba temple. Instead of text, I am posting a series of photos to give you a glimpse of fervour. I was quite happy to see that the PMC had made a huge effort to keep the roads clean, and the presence of the Pune Police maintained peace for the Warkaris and people who had come for ‘Darshan’. Despite forecasts of heavy rain, the weather god stayed away.
Being vehicle-free, people walked in the centre of the roads.
Waiting for the procession to arrive, people made themselves comfortable on the roadside culverts, staircases of shops in fact anything that was a vantage view point. The roads had got a fresh dusting of bleaching powder and an ambulance was positioned at a central spot. Strangely, it already seemed to be in business!!
The arrow indicates folks seeking advice of the health worker inside! While most shops had shut, hotels and food stalls did roaring business as both young and old waited patiently. There were enough and more photo-ops for the vast turn out of photographers who were keen to record the happenings via the ‘third eye’ as it were!
Rangoli to welcome the Palkhi
Many chose to have the typical tilak painted on the forehead
The Police Commissioner Rashmi Shukla was seen walking down with her senior officers which went a long way in boosting morale of the police force and public.
Power Walk! This photo from a tweet by @PuneCityPolice
And suddenly, the pilgrims started walking in. They walked in step in groups least concerned about us gawking at them. Their faith is what gave them the strength to take up this long walk. They sang hymns as they walked and some carried their bags on their heads. The IT folk have a separate IT Dindi which invariably grabs newspaper attention.
For some reason people rushed to touch this horse
Each Dindi had a Tulshi vrundavan that was carried by a lady.
The Dindi were numbered and I noted them in descending order towards the first Palkhi.
Finally, the decorated Palkhi carrying Sant Tukaram’s Paduka.
Sant Tukaram Paduka
The Palkhi procession had a quiet grace and Punekars did not disappoint with their self discipline! In comparison, the Ganesh Visarjan procession is a more high profile, high decible procession where the electrified decorations and the Dhol pathaks are the show stealers!!
The two cannot be compared at all except that both effectively throw traffic movement completely out of gear!! The Wari halts in Pune for a day or two and then sets course for Pandharpur. I had plans to undertake this walk a couple of years ago but could not do so for various reasons. In the meanwhile, I can stay updated virtually via the Facebook Dindi . You can also search for #Palkhi or #Wari on Twitter for more amazing photographs.
Have any of you undertaken this pilgrimage or any other? What was your experience? Take care folks! 🙂