The Pune district administration has decided to keep the route and timing of “paduka procession” of Sant Dnyaneshwar and Sant Tukaram under wraps in a bid to avoid crowding near the buses in which they will be carried to Pandhapur.
The holy “padukas” of the two saints will be taken by state transport buses on June 30, a day before the Ashadki Ekadashi. District Collector Naval Kishore Ram told this paper on Sunday that they have decided to keep the route and timing of the “paduka procession” a secret. “This is because we don’t want people to come to know about the route the buses will take. Neither do we want people to know the timing when the buses will start from Dehu and Alandi. Since it is an issue of faith, it will be difficult to control the faithful from crowding or trying to halt the buses en route…,” he said, adding that the decision to carry the padukas by buses was finalised four-five days back.
He said, “We wanted to take them by a chopper but one of the key factors considered for this was the weather. Since it is monsoon, if the weather is not clear, there will be a delay in reaching Pandharpur. Secondly, in a chopper the seating capacity is less whereas a bus can accommodate 20 warkaris which is what we have decided.”
As for special arrangements inside the bus for keeping the padukas, Ram said they have left it to the Dehu and Alandi sansthans.
Meanwhile, Manik More of Dehu sansthan said, “On June 30, when we carry the holy padukas to Pandharpur, four ‘abhang aartis’ will be held en route. The ‘aartis’ will be of a minute duration and will be performed by stopping buses at spots where no one is present. Besides, the warkaris will be allowed to get down from the bus. We will carry meals with us.”
He added, “There will be 20 warkaris inside the bus. Two will be looking after the padukas… We will strictly follow government guidelines and social distancing norms.”
Meanwhile, amid the pandemic, Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation (MSRTC) will lose revenue of about Rs 1 crore it usually earns by operating special buses to Pandharpur from Pune and nearby areas. As per officials, the MSRTC operates an average of about 1,500 special buses to Pandharpur during the annual pilgrimage.
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