Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar on Thursday said the centuries-old ‘wari’ tradition will not be broken as the palkhis of Sant Dnyaneshwar and Sant Tukaram will be allowed this year, but with fewer warkaris.
“I have asked the Pune Divisional Commissioner and the District Collector to discuss with the trustees of the Alandi and Dehu Sansthans and find a way out regarding the palkhi tradition. Since the ‘wari’ will be held in June, we will have to take into consideration the then situation of the coronavirus pandemic… and plan accordingly,” Pawar told The Indian Express.
The palkhi can head to Pandharpur with fewer warkaris who will have to maintain social distancing, said Pawar. “This aspect will have to be discussed between the trustees and the local administration. The age-old palkhi tradition can be maintained with fewer warkaris,” he said.
Madhukar More, president of the Sant Tukaram Maharaj Sansthan Samiti, said the number of warkaris was not an issue. “Every year, lakhs of them participate. But this year, the situation is completely different…. we are ready to carry out the tradition with any number as suggested by the government,” he said.
“We don’t intend to break the tradition of carrying the palkhis on foot. We are ready to carry out the palkhi tradition with only a handful of warkaris,” More said, adding that they were expecting a call from the divisional commissionerate to discuss the issue.
The Sansthan said from change of route by avoiding ‘red zones’ to mandatory wearing of masks and ‘darshan’ from a distance, they have already planned several norms for this year’s palkhi. “We will be placing our plan before the administration. They can also suggest what they have in mind. We are going to be accommodative and will strictly follow the government guidelines and directives,” he said.
Advocate Vikas Dhage-Patil, of the Shri Sant Dnyaneshwar Maharaj Sansthan, Alandi, also said they would abide by whatever decision the government takes. “Though we want to carry the ‘padukas’ of the sant to Pandharpur, as has been done for centuries, we do not want to do anything which will pose a risk to our fellow citizens…,” he said.
District Collector Naval Kishore Ram said the administration has asked the trustees of Alandi and Dehu Devasthan to submit their plans. “We have asked them to submit their plans regarding the routes, number of warkaris and how they plan to maintain social distancing.”
“It is a matter of tradition and faith. We have to strike a balance between age-old traditions and the current situation… we will see to it that the palkhi tradition is carried out by strictly following social distancing norms.”
Ram said a meeting with trustees of both Devasthans will be held in the next two to three days and the matter will be finalised.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines