?Palakhi? takes audience on a spritual trip | india | Hindustan Times
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?Palakhi? takes audience on a spritual trip

NO PILGRIMAGE is less or more spiritual. It is actually the perseverance and the devotion of the devotees that gives it a special spiritual meaning. An observant individual should step forward to experience it in much the same way as one experiences a journey down a river or a trip in a Mumbai local. D B Mokashi is a writer who has taken this kind of an initiative to pen his feelings in a novel entitled ?Palakhi?, the palanquin.

india Updated: Jan 01, 2007 19:47 IST

NO PILGRIMAGE is less or more spiritual. It is actually the perseverance and the devotion of the devotees that gives it a special spiritual meaning. An observant individual should step forward to experience it in much the same way as one experiences a journey down a river or a trip in a Mumbai local. D B Mokashi is a writer who has taken this kind of an initiative to pen his feelings in a novel entitled ‘Palakhi’, the palanquin.

It is one thing to stage a play and quite another to stage a novel. Only those zapped by it can undertake such a cross-country mission—the course ‘Vari’ as the Pandharpur Yatra is popularly known takes. Palakhi inspired not only Subodh Khanolkar and Iravati Karnik to adapt it to the stage, but also more than two dozen students of Ruparel College who performed it on stage. It was rather an arduous task but the result was splendid.

For city folks who did not have either time or inclination to read the novel, much less the strength to embark on such a journey, Sanand provided an opportunity to get the feel with five performances on Saturday and Sunday at the university auditorium.

Followers from all over rural Maharashtra walk on foot up to Pandharpur for a darshan of Vithoba and his consort Rakhumai on the full moon of ‘asadh’. Mokashi takes the Vari from Saswad as an observer. Along the course of 150 miles he comes across several interesting characters – a bangle vendor who is amazed by the beauty of nature, a Muslim woman with deep faith in Vithoba, the tour organiser, an elderly cobbler, a petty thief, those who consider death on this holy route a blessing and those who rejoice in childbirth. The novel is an exquisite compilation of these sketches. 

The author is disappointed by all various human weaknesses he witnesses during his pilgrimage. The year he chose for this exploration was 1964 when a massive dam burst caused heavy floods in Pune. Despite the news of a disaster at home, the pilgrims decide to press on while the writer takes a break to make a quick visit home. He who began with an academic interest in due course becomes one with them abandoning his urban airs.

Still he is undecided about the mad rush that ensues when the temple comes in sight. Whether it is real anxiety or merely a ritual? It is quite an enlightening conclusion that on the appointed day Vithoba is not actually in the shrine.

Interestingly, Vithoba is out to be with his genuine follower who could be a Tukaram helping a cow out of a swamp or a poor cobbler giving his unselfish services to the devotees.

In applauding the author’s judgment one conveniently forgets that it is influenced by a preconditioned rationale of a city intellectual. One who calls poor pilgrims’ resolve to continue with the journey an escapist attitude expresses a kind of skepticism about the very purpose of the pilgrimage.

Despite the criticism of being little longish and a bit repetitive, ‘Palakhi’ was a great commercially viable performance by amateurs. The cast lived up to the actual Pandharpur ‘Vari’ and improvised the presentation by their experiences.