Updated: June 15, 2021 12:13:46 am
Claiming that the sentiments of worshippers could be honoured while ensuring strict adherence to Covid restrictions, former chief mister Devendra Fadnavis said, “In small batches of 50, warkaris (devotees who worship lord Vithal) could be allowed to undertake the pilgrimage in a phased manner to ensure there were no crowding and social-distance norms observed… Putting a complete ban on pilgrimage is not a good idea.”
Every year, lakhs of warkaris set out on foot across Maharashtra for 15 to 20 days to offer prayers at Lord Vitthal temple in Pandharpur. The pilgrimage culminates with celebrations on Ashadi Ekadashi, which falls on July 20 this year.
Pointing that the state was already easing Covid-19 restrictions, BJP vice-president Madhav Bhandari said the government should now also consider granting permission to warkaris to undertake the pilgrimage.
“During the Moghul reign, Aurangzeb made several attempts to stop the pilgrimage. But despite his might, the warkaris continued their traditional pilgrimage. It was never interrupted,” he said, adding that last year, too, all rituals and pilgrimages were stopped due to Covid-19.
Earlier, Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar said, “We have to exercise caution. We cannot allow a huge congregation of
people under pilgrimage in Covid times.”