Come monsoon,and politicians across party lines take a break to join thousands of warkaris in the annual padyatra to the holy town of Pandharpur in Solapur district.
On Ashadhi Ekadashi,which falls on July 19 this year,Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan will perform rituals at the ancient temple of Lord Vitthal at Pandharpur. Senior cabinet ministers will also visit the temple on the day.
However,the most interesting phase of the pilgrimage is two weeks ahead of Ashadhi Ekadashi,when politicians join the procession that covers 234-km hilly terrain between Dehu-Alandi (Pune district) and Pandharpur.
Be it Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray,NCP MP Supriya Sule or state home minister R R Patil everybody marks their attendance at the pilgrimage,also known as wari. And they are all on foot. Farmers from Vidarbha,Marathwada and western Maharashtra,who are part of the procession,are neither perturbed not awed by the presence of these VVIPs.
Senior NCP leader Babanrao Pachpute says he has never skipped the pilgrimage in the last 10 years. Even as a minister,I officially took permission for a two-week break for the pilgrimage, he says. Pachpute is among the few politicians who cover the entire stretch from Pune to Pandharpur. State BJP president Devendra Fadnavis made his maiden pilgrimage this year. He has pledged to return the next year,too. Its an experience that humbles you. All you can sense through the journey is bhakti, he says.
The government estimates 10 lakh warkaris to visit Pandharpur during the 23 days.