By Manali Misra:
The sounds of “veena” and “pakhawaj” filled the whole city as the Palkhi reached Pune on 5th of July. Palkhi is a 1000 — year old tradition which was started by some saints of Maharashtra and is still continued by their followers called as warkaris (people who follow a wari, a fundamental ritual). Around 1.5 lakhs of warkaris flocked the city and their chants of “Ram Krishna Hari, jai jai Ram Krishna Hari” and Dnyanba-Tukaram (the famous Maharashtrian saints, Dnyaneshwar and Tukaram) reverberated on the streets.
A group of warkaris called as dindis go singing and dancing to the holy town of Pandharpur, a small town in the district of Solapur. The Palkhi starts in the month of June (Jyeshth) and continues for 22 days. Every year on the eleventh day of the first half of the month of Ashadh, the Palki reaches Pandharpur. Every saint, right from Sant Dnyaneshwar to Sant Tukaram was following the wari tradition. The change in the dindi-wari system was introduced by the youngest son of Sant Tukaram in 1685. He introduced Palkhi and put the silver padukas (footsteps) of Tukaram in the Palkhi and proceeded with his dindi to Alandi where he put the padukas of Dnyaneshwar in the same Palkhi. But in 1830, this tradition of twin Palkhi was broken up due to some disputes and since then two separate Palkhis – Tukaram Palkhi from Dehu and the Dnyaneshwar Palkhi from Alandi. Both the Palkhis meet in Pune for a brief halt and then diverge at Hadapsar to meet again at Wakhri, a village nearby to Pandharpur.
The warkaris carry saffron flags, the idols of Sant Tukaram and Sant Dnyaneshwar and Tulsi saplings in shining brass ‘tulshivrundavans’. Lakhs of devotees take part in the procession. Many people give the warkaris biscuits, water, tea etc. as a mark of respect to the Palkhi. Devotees sit on the road side, waiting for long hours to get a glimpse of the Palkhi. The roads get blocked but neither the scorching heat nor the showers dampen the spirit of warkaris who come all the way long from different parts of the State. This annual “wari” culminates when it reaches Pandharpur on the day of Ashadi Ekadashi.
The writer is a correspondent of Youth Ki Awaaz