June 18, 2009 2:56:18 am
Tens of thousands of warkaris descend on city
Keeping alive the centuries-old tradition,the palkhis of Sant Tukaram and Sant Dnyaneshwar arrived in the city on Wednesday for a brief stopover before heading to Pandharpur,the abode of Lord Vitthal. Like every year,tens of thousands of warkaris accompanied the palkhis even as the city came to a grinding halt through the day. The warkaris walked through the city in the blistering heat as enthusiastic citizens lined up on the sides of roads to give them a warm reception.
The warkaris,old and young,from rural parts of Maharashtra accompany the palkhis of Sant Tukaram and Sant Dnyaneshwar that set out on their respective journeys from the temple towns of Dehu and Alandi a day ago. The Sant Dnyaneshwar palkhi will halt at Palkhi Vithoba temple in Nana Peth in the city,while the Sant Tukaram palkhi will take a breather at the Nivdungya Vithoba temple. This annual wari will culminate when it reaches Pandharpur on the day of Ashadi Ekadashi on July 3.
The processions entered the city with saffron flags and festoons towering above the crowd that was chanting Dnyanoba-Tukaram to the accompaniment of cymbals and mrudunga. City mayor Rajlaxmi Bhosale welcomed the Sant Dnayneshwar palkhi at Kalasgaon on Alandi Road on behalf of the city. While the palkhi of Sant Tukaram reached the Kamal Nayan Bajaj chowk on Pune-Mumbai highway at 3.20 pm,the Sant Dnyaneshwar palkhi reached the spot at 4 pm. Deputy mayor Chandrakant Mokate and standing committee chairman Nilesh Nikam were present to welcome the warkaris.
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No stalls were erected along the roadside to welcome devotees this year owing to security reasons. However,food packets were distributed to the warkaris; a group of cobblers were also seen mending their torn footwear.
Both the palkhis made a halt at the Dnyaneshwar Paduka temple on FC Road in the evening for a puja,before heading to Deccan.
Toddler devotees: Children aged three to six years,who have hearing and speech disabilities,took out a small procession between Agriculture College and Dnyaneshwar Paduka chowk. These children belonged to Swarnaad school run by Coch lea Pune for Hearing and Speech. Dr Avinash Vachasundar said,We have been taking out this procession for the past five years. The palkhi procession provides these children exposure.
Apart from this group,two children dressed as Vitthal-Rukmini could not be missed. Seven-year-old Honraj Mavale,son of Shahir Hemant Mavale along with Shravani Rokade accompanied the Sant Dnyaneshwar palkhi from Alandi. While Honraj goes to Navin Marathi School,Shravani is a student of Hujurpaga Girls School.
From the corporate world: For a group of 17 chartered accountants,company secretaries and MBAs,participating in Sant Tukaram palkhis procession is their way of temporarily forgetting the corporate world and connecting with their roots. All of us come from farmer families and though our parents had chosen to settle in Pune,we have grown up hearing interesting stories about Pandharichi Wari from our grandparents. That is why we decided to take part in this procession, said Guarav Pingale,who has just completed his CS.
The group,started in 2002 by three friends,has over 20 members now. While we cannot complete the entire stretch till Pandharpur or even till Saswad,we walk either from Alandi to Pune or the Hadapsar-Dive Ghat stretch, said Vishnu Salunke,another group member.
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