The annual pilgrimage that the Warkaris take to Pandharpur is not just a march towards a destination — it is a holy walk which is symbolic of love, bonding and respect. There are many theories regarding the origins of the Wari, one of them being that it was started by Pundalik, a devotee of Lord Vithoba. A story goes that Pundalik used to ill-treat his parents Janudevi and Satyavat but later had an awakening. He realised his wrong deeds and devoted himself completely to the service of his parents.
The underlying message of the story is that the parent-child bond is very important, especially in the fast changing world where houses have grown bigger and families have shrunk in size.
“To bond with parents is the essence of the Pandharpur story which is so apt these days,” says Deepak Chhabria, Managing Director, Finolex Cables Ltd, while talking about the Saath Chal, an initiative undertaken by Sakal Media Group with the company.
When Chhabria first heard the story of why people walk for several days as part of the Wari, he realised that it had to do with the spiritual relationship between a parent and a child. He believes that today, everything has become monotonous. “People just live their own lives because of which family values are going down at a very fast pace,” he says, pointing out that if we go back in time, we will see that there were many joint families in society and a great bond existed between their members.
As against that, today, families meet for lunch or dinner, but everyone is glued to the screen in front of them. “Family relationships have changed drastically over the years and it is time to remind people how important this bond is,” Chhabria says adding that even though many people from the city walk along with the Palkhi (palanquins of Maharashtra’s venerated saints Tukaram and Dnyaneshwar which travel to Pandharpur), some of them do not know the real story behind the Wari.
While it’s true that you cannot get away from urban life, and even rural places are going to be urbanised, it does not mean one has to step away from one’s values, feels Chhabria. “The question that arises is how are we adjusting to the fast pace of life,” he says. He strongly believes that one does not have to lose family values in the process of development.
Talking about Saath Chal (Walk for your family), he says that the idea is to generate a feeling of a strong bond between the parents and children through the concept of Wari. He further adds that looking after the parents and taking good care of them counts as good karma, which is the need of the hour and which is also taught in the holy books.
All that the parents or grandparents want these days is spending time their children. “They are looking for your time and your love, and through this initiative, you will be able to give it to them,” Chhabria says.
His wife, Vini, believes that a bond between the members is vital for any family today. “Grandparents and parents are the foundation of good family values which is one of the much-needed things in life,” she says, adding that Saath Chal is the need of the hour.
“The walk is a spiritual reflection of the relation a child has with his or her parents. It is so important but unfortunately not found these days,” she adds, stating that it is time this spiritual aspect is reintroduced in families so that a strong bond grows between all in a very practical manner. “Walk with your family and show them that they matter,” she says.
She believes that there is a need to introduce these basic values and morals even in our education system.
Over the period of several years, the parent-child relationship has gone through a great change —it’s become a friendly one which indeed is a good thing, she feels. “But the kind of respect that was seen in the previous generation is slowly fading away and because of that children have lost the ethos,” she maintains.
Talking from her own experience, she says that the family time is the most valuable thing in life. “It is so important to spend time together and have each others’ back. Family is that one support system which will be there for you in your ups and downs,” she signs off.
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The Saath Chal initiative has 10 stages. The first one starts on July 6 from Bhakti Shakti Chowk to Nigdi Vitthal Mandir. On July 7, there will be seven stages between Akurdi Vitthal Mandir to Dapodi while on July 9, there will be three stages from Pulgate to Hadapsar Gadital. The distance between two stages will be approximately 1.5 to 2 km. At every stage, a new set of citizens will join the walk. Citizens, dignitaries and celebrities will take an oath to care for their family, especially parents at each stage and then the next stage will start