Pune: The annual pilgrimage undertaken by lakhs of devotees from rural areas of Maharashtra, who participate in the palkhis of Sant Dnyaneshwar and Sant Tukaram, entered Pune en route Pandharpur on Saturday.
However, there was a noticeable drop in the number of warkaris participating this time. Also, the usual traffic congestion did not take place this year.
Being a Sunday, the office-going crowd was missing from the streets. The palkhis also entered the city after the telecast of the much-awaited India-Pakistan ICC Champions Trophy Final, which started at 3 pm. This kept the cricket-loving junta at home, away from the warkari route.
According to some onlookers in Pune, the number could be less probably because the farmers’ sowing season has started with the onset of the southwest monsoon. Overall, the palkhi processions went on smoothly.
The elderly also matched the spirit of youngsters throughout the day. Devotees were offered food and snacks at various junctions.
Mayor Mukta Tilak, along with other politicians and officials, welcomed the pilgrims on behalf of the Pune Municipal Corporation. The Sant Tukaram Maharaj Palkhi entered the city at 4.30 pm, while the Sant Dnyaneshwar Maharaj Palkhi entered the city at 6.30 pm. School children gave the warkaris a warm welcome by giving them snacks and water and joined in the procession.
Parag Sonavne, co-ordinator of Orchid School, Baner, said, “This is the fourth year where our school kids are participating in the palkhi. There are four groups where the kids were distributing biscuits, fruits and water bottles, the second group was distributing seed balls to the warkaris.
The other group was talking to the devotees and the last group was joining the warkaris in their rhythmic chanting.”
Men and women walked carrying musical instruments like taal (cymbals), mrudungas (percussion instruments), veena and harmonium and stopped at designated places to sing devotional songs during the journey.
Devotees were singing bhajans and ‘Gyanba Tukaram’, playing ‘fugdi’ and dancing to the rhythmic beats played by sitar and drums by the devotees on streets.