Pune city and the industrial town of Pimpri-Chinchwad were caught in a warkari wave with lakhs embarking on the three-week pilgrimage that will continue till Ashadi Ekadashi. As has been the tradition the annual palkhi processions of Sant Dnyaneshwar and Saint Tukaram were welcomed in Pimpri-Chinchwad and Pune city, amid chants of bhajan and sounds of traditional music instruments.
Both processions entered Pune through separate routes and by evening, streets in Shivajinagar and Peth areas were filled with lakhs of warkaris. They had descended on temple town Dehu and Alandi from various parts of Maharashtra and a few other states.
Divided into several “dindis” (groups), some carried idols of Dnyaneshwar and Tukaram on their heads, while a few others carried “tulsi” pots. Several warkaris swayed holding saffron flags. The old, the infirm, men and women walked hand in hand to honour their commitment to the tradition of “wari.”
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The warkaris will halt in Pune for 36 hours and proceed towards Pandhapur.
Narhari Chavan, an 83-year old devotee from Nashik district, said, “This is my consecutive 12th year of participation in the wari. I am more than happy to achieve this feat. I was bit skeptical about joining this year considering my old age, but eventually decided to take part.”
Mahesh Jadhav, a class VII student form Parli taluka in Beed district was taking part in the procession for the first time. “I am very excited to travel on foot to Pandhapur. Hope I will have lot of fun and learning,” said Mahesh, who is accompanied by his family.
In Pimpri-Chinchwad, amidst the tree-lined Pune-Mumbai highway, the palkhi arrival provided a spectacular view from Nashik Phata flyover. Motorists stopped on the flyover for a bird’s eye view of Sant Tukaram palkhi as it headed towards Pune city. This was the first time citizens could have a glimpse of the palkhi chariot from Nashik Phata flyover opened four months back.
The Sant Tukaram palkhi arrived from temple town of Dehu in Pimpri-Chinchwad on Friday. Thousands of warkaris accompanied it. The palkhi made an overnight halt at Akurdi temple. Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Commissioner Rajiv Jadhav and Mayor Mohini Lande were among those who welcomed the palkhi. Around 4 am on Saturday, PCMC chief and Akurdi temple trustee Gopalrao Kute performed “aarti” of the palkhi before it left the temple. The palkhi headed towards Pune city between halts at Kalbhornagar, Chinchwad station, Pimpri chowk, Kharalwadi, Vallabhnagar, Kasarwadi, Phugewadi and Dapodi where lunch was served to warkaris.
The palkhi had earlier halted at HA Colony where warkaris had breakfast. Along the highways, activists, families and members of social and voluntary organisations waited to provide food, biscuits, fruits and water to warkaris. At Pimpri chowk and Nashik Phata chowk, activists and citizens had come from across Pimpri-Chinchwad and neighbouring areas to serve warkaris.
Like every year, B J Bhatia had come along with family, friends and nearly 120 kilo “pohas” in a tempo. “For the past seven years, we have been serving pohas to warkaris,” said Bhatai as his group took care of breakfast of hundreds of warkaris. Maruti Owhal, a local resident, had brought boxes of mineral water bottles in a tempo for warkaris. “It gives me a sense of satisfaction,” he said.
Vilas Kunjir and his wife of Pimple Saudagar distributed 5000 bananas. Similarly, Shwetal Balika was seen distributing 40 kg ladoo.
Women’s activists Anita Landge and Padma Kaskar and others joined the procession at Pimpri and walked till Phugewadi. “We left for Pimpri early morning and waited for the palkhi at Pimpri chowk before walking along,” said Landge. “I am going to walk to Pandharpur…I did this last year. I am going with the wari to Pandharpur,” said Landge.