June 18, 2009 2:57:53 am
Since he left his home in Hingoli district five days ago to join the Sant Dnyaneshwar Palkhi at Dehu on June 15,Hanuman Pawar has been calling his home daily to find out if it has rained. For the warkari pilgrims,most of whom are farmers,the rain that is yet to come is the topmost worry this year.
“The rains have been erratic in the past three years,and it is worse this year. Yesterday when I called home,my family members said most villagers had started going on pilgrimages to pray for the rains, said Pawar.
The youngest in the family,Pawar has been participating in the palkhi for the past five years,since he turned 21. While his two elder brothers are waiting for the rains to begin sowing,he could not keep away from his annual routine.
According to Pawar,the monsoon pattern had been different last year,but equally hard on the farmers. It rained a little in the beginning of the monsoon when we left for the palkhi,then there was a long lull in July and that ruined the crops, he said. They had to undertake sowing for the second time around July-end.
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For most warkaris,the Pandharpur yatra is an opportunity to leave their uncertainties and doubts behind for almost a month. Most like to say that when they travel with the dindi,they do not worry about anything¿ almost.
But lack of rains has given us reason to worry, said Ramachandra Tawade,from Utti village,Hingoli. For 15 years,Tawade has been representing his family on the annual Pandharpur trail with the palkhis.
This year,my wife did not come as it has not rained; when the sowing begins they will need more hands, he said. He blames the increasing pollution and the reducing forest cover for the unpredictable rainfall pattern in the recent years.
In 2007,the entire crop was washed out. Rangnath Khapale from Solapur district said,In August 2007,it rained so much in such a short period that the fields were flooded. Last year,the crops were burnt because of a drought-like situation in mid-July. This year,it has not yet rained.
Khapale has 10 acres of land,where he grows tur and jowar. Two years ago,Khapale’s son moved to Pune to work as a daily wages helper. Rains are unpredictable,we needed an alternative income.
The harvest will be affected this year,too, said Gulabrao Dawle,also from Utti. In the last seven years,farmers in his village have partially reduced their acreage under cotton and gone in for soyabean,resulting in an increased income of around Rs 8,000 per acre. This year it may be less. Water is needed,without it,there is nothing else.
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