Being amongst the ‘Warkaris’ of the Palkhi!

Posted: June 13, 2012 in heroes
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Being amongst the ‘Warkaris’ of the Palkhi!

Today, as the Palkhi enters Pune city, I remembered my journey last year. In 2011, I was a part of it. Tell you what, you get Goosebumps when you see the streets filling up with thousands of devotees. I still remember! I walked as a Warkari amongst the ‘Warkaris’. I marched as a devotee from Swargate to Saswad. I will cherish my experience throughout my life.

The tradition of the Palkhi is followed since 1685. The ‘Warkaris’, they walk almost 450 kilometers every year. Yes, 2.5 lakh devotees begin their 450 kilometers journey from Alandi and Dehu road to Pandharpur. For them, it’s a journey to remember! ‘Dnyanba Tukaram’, ‘Dnyneshwar Mauli Dnyanaraja Mauli Tukaram’ is what they sing, when they carry the ‘padukas’ (wooden sandals) of Sant Dnyaneshwar and Sant Tukaram.

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You just cannot describe the atmosphere that you see on the streets. Lively and colorful! They dress up fresh white kurtas, dhoti and a pair of chappals. Thousands of devotees walk barefoot. Men wear green, yellow, red, orange, blue, white and maroon color turbans, ‘fetas’. Women wear sarees and jewelry.

Streets fill up with people. Old and young, men and women, everyone walks. So, do they get tired? No way! You won’t see any pain or tiredness on their faces. The pleasure of walking such a long distance reflects with a smile. Every step is taken with an urge to reach their destination Pandharpur. Hats off to their stamina and to their devotion!

In 2011, I walked 35 kilometers, from Swargate to Saswad. For me, walking up the Dive Ghat was more than a challenge. As I reached Dive Ghat, I came across a few devotional scenes. While climbing the hill, the devotees were picking up fallen stones and arranging them one on another. When asked about the act, they said, “Pick up the stones and keep them one on the other. The number of stones you pile up on each other indicates how big a home you desire. If you desire a 3 storied house, you should place 3 stones one upon another.”

Nice, I did my part too, and prayed for my dream home. Home, sweet home! Throughout the walk to Dive Ghat, my muscles were on fire. The last few kilometers, till Saswad bus station, I kept pushing myself to walk. The people around me farmers, devotees, their songs, ‘bhajans’ and the lively atmosphere kept me going. Ofcourse, when the Palkhi arrives, the rain has to follow.

For a change, being a Warkari, walking amongst the ‘Warkaris’ during the Palkhi Festival, was a dream come true. A walk to remember, a life time experience! It’s worth being a part of the Palkhi again.

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