While there are hundreds of devotees who make it a point to include palkhi procession in their annual calendar, there are also many who experience the ritual for the very first time. City-based chartered accountant Sachin Kulkarni’s wife had participated in the palkhi procession last year. And the experience inspired her to persuade Kulkarni to join her this year, to which he agreed. 37-year-old Kulkarni shares that though he hails from Pandharpur and has visited the place many times, he has never participated in the procession. So, when this year he did and walked with the warkaris from Alandi to Pune on Sunday, covering a distance of 22 kms, the experience made him decide that he will be a part of the procession every year.
“Though my wife, sister and brother-in-law have been to palkhi earlier, I was the only one to experience it for the first time. I was fascinated with whole atmosphere. The devotional songs played by the warkaris using traditional instruments like taal and mrudang left me mesmerised. I am a regular trekker, hence despite walking for several kilometres, I didn’t I didn’t find it tiring, although the hot temperature was bothering a bit. Next year, I will plan it in advance and will also convince a few friends to join me,” he said.
City-based banker Neha Gadre (40), a resident of Sinhgad Road, had been wanting to be a part of the palkhi procession for a long time, she was unsure how she could go about it. “I didn’t know anyone who could guide me about the routes and other things. Then I got to know about the IT Dindee group, who helped me with the details. So finally I managed to participate this year and the experience has been fulfilling. After taking darshan of Lord Vitthal in Alandi, I walked upto Pune with the warkaris,” she says, adding that now that she knows the “process”, she’s sure of participating every year.
Arti Jadhav, a 28-year-old woman from village Wanewadi in Baramati, said that since she hasn’t got married, she decided to attend palkhi to seek Lord Vitthal’s blessings to find a groom soon. “I have come here with my family members. Though they have been coming from many years, it is the first time I am participating. I’m liking it a lot and we will walk upto Pandharpur,” she said.
14-year-old Aniket Dedriyani from Beed says he heard from his family members that “the wishes of a warkari always come true.” He says that his father was heavily into drinking earlier but for last six years, he has quit alcohol. “That’s why I have come in the palkhi with my entire family. Though I had decided to walk upto Pandharpur, I am unsure now as I am facing health problems due to heat and exertion,” he said.