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No pilgrimage to Pandharpur this year; state to ferry ‘padukas’ by road or air to keep up tradition

By Ketaki Ghoge, Mumbai
PUBLISHED ON MAY 29, 2020 11:57 PM IST

There will be no ashadi wari or pilgrimage to Pandharpur this year due to the Covid-19 pandemic, but to keep up with the age-old tradition the state government has worked out a compromise to ferry the ‘padukas’ by road or air to the temple.

In a meeting held on Friday between deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar and trustees of Alandi, Dehu and Pandharpur temples and other district officials, it was decided that the procession on foot will not be carried out. Every year, lakhs of devotees of the warkari sect go on a pilgrimage by foot to Vithoba temple in Pandharpur from Alandi (place of worship and samadhi of Sant Dyaneshwar) and Dehu (place of worship of Sant Tukaram) ahead of Ashadi Ekadashi.

However, as all religious events and celebrations have been banned in public due to Covid-19, the government did not want to allow a procession of lakhs of devotees on July 1. Warkari sect is a religious movement traced to the Bhakti tradition which has a large following in Maharashtra.

“Ashadi wari is an age-old tradition and we want to ensure that it is not broken. The government will ferry the padukas (footprints of saints) of all those trusts and organisations that are so allowed by district collectors, superintendent of police etc, by air in helicopters or by road in buses to Pandharpur a day before Ekadashi. The final decision on going by air will be taken depending on the weather forecast then,” said Pawar.

He said, “No procession or palki will be carried out without permission from district collector. Everyone should take darshan of the deity on TV sitting at home.” He also thanked the trusts for taking a pro-active role.

“We welcome the decision taken by the government,’’ said Vikas Dhage Patil, trustee of the Sant Dyaneshwar Maharaj Trust Committee.

BJP state chief Chandrakant Patil said, “We welcome the decision of the government to take the padukas of the seven palkis to Pandharpur by road or air. Devotees must follow the government guidelines during the Covid-19 pandemic.”

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