Mumbai temples dedicated to Lord Vitthal are gearing up to host thousands of devotees on Monday, to celebrate Ashadhi Ekadasi. Observed statewide, the festival marks the culmination of the Wari Yatra in Pandharpur, Solapur district.
City’s nearly 5,000 dabbawallas, who belong to the Warkari sect, have already left the city for Pandharpur, where they will celebrate for two days. “All dabbawallas want to undertake the yatra, but can’t, because of work. So every year, we take these two days off and worship our deity,” said Subhash Gangaram Talekar, spokesperson of the Mumbai Dabey Wahatuk Mandal. Lord Vithal is an incarnation of Lord Krishna and is a popular deity among Maharashtrians.
Also called Ashada Devasayani Ekadashi, the festival is observed during the Shukla Paksha (waxing phase of moon) in the Ashada month of the Hindu calendar (June–July).
Temples dedicated to Vithal, such as those in Sion and Wadala, will hold bhajans all night on Sunday, followed by special prayers on Monday. The 12-year-old Sri Kashi Math in Dahisar, which is a unit of Kashi Math Samsthan in Varanasi and has been started by members of the Gowda Sarasvata Brahmana (GSB) community, will host a day-long ‘Pandharpur Festival’ on the day.
“There are several bhajan mandalis who commute from Churchgate to Virar daily. Our Math, which sees around 25,000 visitors on this day, plays host to several such groups – from those singing in Malayalam and Kannada to Gujarati,” said Math head Mohandas Mallya.