In what may be the first such move in the history of the centuries-old palkhi processions of Sant Dnyaneshwar and Sant Tukaram, the ‘padukas’ of the two saints may well be carried to Pandharpur in a four-wheeler instead of the warkaris walking all the way for 250 km.
This was one of the options proposed at a meeting of trustees of Alandi and Dehu sansthan samitis held at the council hall in Pune on Friday, and presided over by Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar. District collectors and guardian ministers of Pune, Solapur and Satara were also present through video-conferencing.
Vikas Dhage-Patil, chief trustee of the Shri Sant Dnyaneshwar Maharaj Sanshtan Samiti, said as per instructions of the district collector, they submitted three options to the state government on how to conduct the palkhi processions, from Alandi to Pandharpur and from Dehugaon to Pandharpur.
“The first option was that the palkhis should be carried in a rath accompanied by ‘vinaykaris’ or heads of 400 ‘dindis’ walking all the way to Pandharpur. The second option was 100 warkaris accompanying the rath and walking all the way to Pandharpur,” said Dhage-Patil.
And the third option, he said, was to avoid the walk and instead carry the ‘padukas’ by a four-wheeler to Pandharpur. “We proposed that the ‘padukas’ should be carried in a vehicle with a handful of warkaris accompanying it. The vehicle will leave a day before the Ashadhi Ekadashi,” he said.
Dhage-Patil said long discussions were held on all the three options. “It was decided that another meeting will be held on May 29 to take the final call,” he said.
The palkhi procession is slated to start from June 13.
All the options, Dhage-Patil said, were based on how the coronavirus situation is at that particular moment. “If the curve flattens in the next few days, we feel that 400 people should be allowed to proceed on foot. And this can be done by strictly following social distancing norms. If the situation does not improve, then 100 persons should be allowed. If the situation escalates, then it is better to carry the ‘padukas’ in a vehicle,” he said.
Dhage-Patil said if the government permits carrying ‘padukas’ in a vehicle, it will be the first instance in the 300 year old history of the palkhis. “In 1945, the palkhis were apparently carried by a train. There is a record of it, wherein the collector states that palkhis had been cancelled but the record does not specify why they were cancelled. Over the years, we have heard stories it was due to the plague…,” he said.
Madhukar More, who heads the Shri Sant Tukaram Maharaj Sansthan Samiti, said whatever decision the government takes, the group was ready to abide by it. “A final decision will be taken by the government on May 29…,” he said.
At the meeting, Ajit Pawar said the government will take the final decision depending on what the situation is in the three districts of Pune, Solapur and Satara.
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