AMIDST GROWING uncertainty in relation to the Covid-19 situation, the state government is under pressure from several warkari groups not to ban the Kartik Ekadashi pilgrimage to the temple town of Pandharpur.
The BJP Adhyatmik Samanvay Samiti on Thursday urged the state government to allow the pilgrimage that begins on November 22. It mooted a proposal urging Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray to allow the traditional pilgrimage, along with some new guidelines and regulations to ensure it does not violate Covid-19 safety protocols.
The pilgrimage to the temple of Vitthal in Pandharpur takes place twice a year, where warkaris (devotees) travel on foot across the state for 20 days to worship the deity. The first one takes place during the monsoon, which is called Ashad Ekadashi, and the second during the winter, called Kartik Ekadashi.
Although the state government allowed all places of worship to reopen last week, it is yet to decide whether to allow the pilgrimage even as a second wave of the Covid-19 infection is being reported from some parts of the country.
Cabinet ministers are contemplating over the matter, and while some have expressed their reservation, others feel restrictions should be imposed on the number of people taking part in the pilgrimage.
While traditional rituals will be allowed in the temple along with daily worship, the state government is holding a deliberation with leaders of warkari groups.
Warkari Mahamandal president and Vitthal Rukmini Temple Samiti Pandharpur trustee Prakash Maharaj Jawanjal, Akhil Bharatoya Warkari Mahamandal Central Dharmasabha president Bhau Maharaj Phursungekar, Shrinivruttinath Maharaj Dhondge pilgrimage and temple coordinator Rajesh Maharaj Deglurkar, western Maharashtra coordinator Sanjay Dhungre Patil were among those who took part in the meeting convened by Samiti president Tushar Bhosale. At the end of the meeting, a unanimous resolution was adopted in support of the pilgrimage.
In the resolution, the Samiti has stated that in July, the Ashadi Yatra to Pandharpur was cancelled due to the pandemic and unpreparedness of the state administration to tackle crowds. All warkari groups then gave their consent to the state government’s decision as Covid-19 was at its peak.
The resolution further stated that the situation is different now, and the government has unlocked all sectors allowing normal activity. Therefore, the Samiti urges the Maha Vikas Aghadi government to allow Kartik Ekadashi pilgrimage without any interruptions.
Organisers have sent a proposal to the state government recommending some measures to regulate the pilgrimage movement in a phased manner.
The state government wants warkari leaders to take an initiative to restrict devotees from crowding Pandharpur. A formal decision, however, is still awaited.
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