6 lakh devotees expected in Dehu, Alandi for palkhi
While the palkhi of Sant Tukaram Maharaj will begin from Dehu to Pandharpur on Monday, that of Sant Dnyaneshwar Maharaj will beginfrom Alandi to Pandharpur on Tuesday
PUNE While the palkhi of Sant Tukaram Maharaj will begin its annual wari from Dehu to Pandharpur on Monday, that of Sant Dnyaneshwar Maharaj will begin its annual wari from Alandi to Pandharpur a day later on Tuesday. Both palkhis will come to Pune city on Wednesday, June 22, and since this year, the walking wari tradition has resumed after a gap of two years due to the Covid-10 pandemic, almost double the number of warkaris (6 lakh) is expected at Dehu and Alandi on the prasthan days of the respective palkhis.
Whereas the Pune police department is all set to welcome the palkhis and lakhs of warkaris, and consecutive meetings were held to plan the entry roads, traffic diversion plans, and how to decentralise the crowd on Wednesday. Accordingly, the Pune police will officially declare detailed traffic diversion plans on Monday. Pune city police commissioner Amitabh Gupta said, “All our preparations, meetings and planning for this year’s wari have been carried out and accordingly, a detailed traffic diversion and monitoring plan has been prepared for both the palkhis coming to Pune on Wednesday. As the number of warkaris is more this year, there will be heavy police bandobast and traffic monitoring carried out on the day the palkhis arrive. While on Monday, we will declare details about the same to the media.”
Every year, lakhs of warkaris, all devotees of Sant Tukaram and Sant Dnyaneshwar, go along with the respective palkhis to Pandharpur. Prior to the pandemic, more than 3 to 4 lakh warkaris joined several dindis (groups of warkaris) along with both the palkhis. There are around 250 registered dindis that follow the two palkhis all the way to Pandharpur. Dindis from across Maharashtra converge at Dehu and Alandi a week before the two palkhis begin their wari and both villages are crowded with warkaris. For the last two years, the walking wari tradition for both palkhis was cancelled by the state government due to the pandemic. Instead, a few select warkaris were ferried by MSRTC buses from Dehu and Alandi to Pandharpur.
Deputy commissioner of police (traffic) Rahul Shrirame said, “On June 22 in the afternoon, both palkhis and the dindis along with them will start entering Pune city. The Sant Dnyaneshwar palkhi will come from Harris bridge road while the Sant Tukaram palkhi will enter from the Bophel area road. The ‘palkhi diversion’ plans are ready as the roads will be closed down two hours before the palkhis pass through them and only later they will be opened.”
“There are dindis ahead and behind the palkhis and lakhs of warkaris walk through the palkhis. Considering the large number of warkaris joining the palkhis, we are also planning to divert and decentralise the crowd while it enters the city from Sancheti hospital chowk. Our appeal to the public will be to avoid the palkhi route on Wednesday and use the alternative routes instead to avoid traffic congestion and cooperate with the traffic police,” he said.
While advocate Vikas Dhage Patil, president of the Alandi devsthan temple trust and head of this year’s Sant Dnyaneshwar Maharaj palkhi, said, “For the last two years due to fear and as a precautionary measure, all of us warkaris decided to cancel the walking wari tradition as it was necessary for the safety of people. But now as vaccination has been carried out and the warkaris are eagerly waiting for the palkhis, we are expecting a rise in the number of warkaris for prasthan day (6 lakh). Every year, this number is somewhere around 4 to 5 lakh but this time, it will certainly increase.”