Pimpri-Chinchwad residents gave a resounding welcome to Sant Tukaram palkhi which snaked through the industrial town on its way to Pune city. As par tradition,the Sant Tukaram palkhi had taken a days halt in Akurdi before leaving for its onwards journey around 5 am.
In Akurdi,local residents had organised bhajan,bharud and abhangs throughout the night. The locals had made food and provided accommodation for hundreds of warkaris. After the morning aarti the palkhi left for its onward journey. The palkhi next reached HA grounds in Sant Tukaram Nagar where warkaris had breakfast provided by various social and voluntary organisations. The Sant Tukaram Prathishtan welcomed the palkhi and took care of the warkaris. Crowds had swelled in large numbers at the HA grounds.
Intermittent drizzle did not dampen the enthusiasm among the warkaris. Police had to struggle to manage the increasing traffic and the surging crowd. People from Bhosari,Indrayani Nagar,Gurav Pimple,Rahatni,Kalewadi,Chinchwad had surfaced on the Pune-Mumbai highway. At Nashik Phata chowk,where PCMC is constructing a flyover,the crowd had blocked the highway from all sides,but the traffic police led by API Sanjay Patange ensured that the traffic flow did not stop.
When the palkhi left Nashik Phata chowk around 10.30am,the traffic heading towards Shivajinagar was diverted to Pimpri,Kalewadi,Aundh and then to Shivajinagar area. PMPML buses heading towards Khadki,Yerawada,Pune station and Shivajinagar had to take the longer route from Pimpri and Kalewadi.
Citizens and volunteers who had lined up the highway distributed foodpackets,eatables,fruits,biscuits,sweets among the warkaris. Some housing societies along the highway organised lunch for the warkaris. One such housing society was the Goyal Residency in Kasarwadi where several warkaries were offered lunch. Sanjay Shah,chairman of the society,said last year too they had organised a lunch and would continue doing so. Jeetendra Shah and Mukund Patil,society residents,said every member of the society contributed for organising full meals for the warkaris. It gives us satisfaction to serve the warkaris, they said.
The warkaris had descended in Dehu from across the state. Some warkaris had also come from other states. I and my husband have been a regular to the palkhi for 20 years now. We go right up to Pandharpur, said Shankuntalabai N (65) of Nagpur. Amrutao Khilare,55,who had come from Aurangabad,said,I feel as if I am walking along with the great Sant. It is a feeling I cant describe, he said.
Various workers unions such as Phugewadi Mathadi Kamgar Sanghatana,Atlas Copco,Sandvik Asia,Finolex distributed eatables and fruits among the warkaris. Around 1.30 pm,the palkhi was given a send off by Pimpri-Chinchwad residents as it headed towards the PMC limits which starts from Bopodi. The Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corporation had had made arrangements of drinking water and medicine to the warkaris from Akurdi to Bopodi. Ambulances and fire brigade vehicles were also kept ready at key points.
This year,residents of Pimpri-Chinchwad had reason to rejoice as the palkhi moved through the town when they were awake. Last year,the palkhi had proceeded around 7.30am with residents caught napping. Last year,when I woke up around 8 am,the palkhi had moved to Dapodi, said Soket S,a resident.