PUNE: With the warkaris chanting ‘Gnyanba Tukaram’ and Jai Hari Vitthal’, the Palkhis of Sant Dnyaneshwar Maharaj and Sant Tukaram Maharaj entered the city on Wednesday amid great pomp and gaiety. For next 15 days, the warkaris will be enroute to Pandharpur to have a darshan of Lord Vitthal.
Pune Mayor Mukta Tilak welcomed both the Palkhis at Wakdewadi and performed a pooja. She said, “Every year, when the Palkhis arrive, entire city is soaked with excitement. We have made all arrangements like water, toilets and other health services for warkaris so that they do not face any problems. We have also arranged 50 mandaps for the warkaris to stay and relax. However, the excitement is so high among warkaris that it doesn’t matter to them whether there are adequate facilities for their comfort.”
This year’s Wari witnessed many first timers who came in small groups from all over the city.
Archana Kulkarni, a resident of Kothrud who was part of Alandi Palkhi procession, was one of them. She said, “I have heard a lot about the Wari and often seen the procession but I have never participated in it. This is the first time, I participated in the procession and it has a very positive and divine vibe which relaxes your mind.”
Carrying Tulsi plants and chanting hymns, the warkaris attired in traditional clothes, made the entire atmosphere devotional. While walking towards Pandharpur, the warkaris were also playing musical instruments.
Men and women from different dindis (groups) were seen participating in games like kabaddi, phugdi, kho-kho and formed a pyramid. There were volunteers and activists who were distributing food packets, water bottles to the pilgrims and besides offering foot massages to them. Puneites thronged in huge numbers for the darshan of palkhis at Dnyaneshwar Paduka Chowk where both the Palkhis meet each other and make their journey together.
Milind Shinde, a resident and businessman from Vishrantwadi, said, “We do not get enough time to be part of the procession but we make sure that we come every year for the darshan,” he said.
However, the warkaris feel that there is an increase in number of warkaris this year due to late rainfall. Balaji Jadhav, a farmer from Ausa taluka of Latur district who was part of Alandi palkhi procession, said, “Last year, there were only 50 -60 people in our dindi but this year, there are more than 100 people. Due to late rainfall, there is hardly any work back at home as the sowing is yet to happen. Therefore, there is an increase in the number of warkaris.”
Another farmer from Mulshi taluka, Deepak Ovhal who was part of the procession from Dehu Road, feels that the divine power helps in relieving them from stress.
However, Aba Potwal from Danori in Nashik district says that every year, there is an increase in the number of warkaris. He said, “Whether it rains or not, every year, there is an increase in the number of pilgrims in this procession. This age old tradition has a special place for all of us and irrespective of the situation, every year, the number of pilgrims increases. This is the best time of the year, when we all enjoy by indulging in kirtans and playing games.
A group of 500-600 IT professionals was also a part of the procession. This year, their theme was Harit Wari and focused on environment and greenery. Vijay Kale, a resident of Pimple Saudagar who was part of Alandi Palkhi procession, said, “This year, our message is about conserving environment and greenery. We are facing a lot of challenges due to less trees and hence, we decided to impart message about Harit Wari this year. It is a great fun that all IT professionals come together and play different games and sing kirtans.”
Another IT professional and Wakad resident Asmita Laygude, who is participating in Wari for past three years, feels that it is a good physical exercise for her. She said, “Usually, we do not get enough time to walk and indulge in physical exercise. During this procession, we not only enjoy the positive vibes of Wari but also do exercise by walking.”
(With inputs from Aparna Singh and Archita Ghamande)