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Saturday, Aug 24, 2019

Devotees march with faith, strength, fervour as Palkhi arrives in Pune

Sant Dnyaneshwar, Sant Tukaram palkhi processions arrived in the city; warkaris will stay here for two days before proceeding ahead to Pandharpur

pune Updated: Jun 27, 2019 15:35 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Pune
The sant Dnyaneswar and sant Tukaram palkhis arrived in Pune on Wednesday. The city was drenched in saffron hues of the warkaris.
The sant Dnyaneswar and sant Tukaram palkhis arrived in Pune on Wednesday. The city was drenched in saffron hues of the warkaris. (Milind Saurkar/HT Photo)
         

‘Mauli… Mauli’, devotees sing in unison, and the crowd craning to see the Palkhi as soon as the first glimpse of the saffron flag atop the horse which walks ahead announcing the arrival of the palkhi in the city on Wednesday evening.

At the Patil Estate devotees gathered in huge numbers to get a glimpse of the Sant Tukaram palkhi.

At exactly 5.15 pm, amidst blaring loudspeakers, the palkhi arrived with dindis preceding it and creating a sea of saffron flags and white turbans, walking at a brisk pace, and singing praise to the deity. Mayor Mukta Tilak and Deputy Mayor Dr Siddharth Dhende were also present to welcome the warkaris.

People peered down from the Guruvarya Lahuji Vastad Salve over bridge, showering flowers over the passing palkhi, while those below tried to get as close as possible to seek the blessings from the palkhi.

At 6.10 pm, with the arrival of Sant Dynaneshwar Palkhi, there was a sudden rush to join the warkaris from across the road and walk along with them till Fergusson College road.

Waarkaris (Pilgrims) during the Sant Dyaneshwar palkhi procession in the city on Wednesday. Every year lakhs of pilgrims from across Maharashtra travel to Pandharpur at the temple of Lord Vithala from Alandi.
Waarkaris (Pilgrims) during the Sant Dyaneshwar palkhi procession in the city on Wednesday. Every year lakhs of pilgrims from across Maharashtra travel to Pandharpur at the temple of Lord Vithala from Alandi. ( Pratham Gokhale/HT Photo )

The Fergusson College road was crowded with devotees, eager photographers and people who were waiting with snacks to distribute them among the warkaris. Among them were two young interns from France working in an advertisement agency in Aundh. Clemence Boudenia and Clement Poulet, who are on their first visit to Pune and to India. They were surprised to see so many people waiting to see the Palkhi.

“Our colleague mentioned this religious procession, but we had no idea that so many people participate in this procession and walk for some much distance,” said Clemence.

“It was indeed very beautiful sight to see the devotion on peoples smiling faces,” added Clemence.

While Clement was completely in awe of the fact that they will be walking for more than a month and was curious about Lord Vithal.

People welcomed the warkaris and participated in huge numbers to serve the deity.
People welcomed the warkaris and participated in huge numbers to serve the deity. ( Ravindra Joshi/HT PHOTO )

“I wish I had more time to walk along with them when they resume their journey on Friday, sadly I have to go back home,” said Clement.

Meanwhile, the Vaishali Katta Group has been meeting for the past 25 years without fail and the palkhi procession is one of the highlights for it brings friends from across the cities just to see this procession.

Sunil Gate, who works in Mumbai, came down just for that; to be part of the group who witness the grandeur of the palkhi procession. “I try not to miss the procession and always be here to welcome the warkaris with my friends.”

Sanjay Dhere has participated in the Palkhi for the past 18 years. He said, “This year my group has gone ahead with the palkhi and I couldn’t go due to personal commitments.”

Senapati Bapat road witnessed heavy traffic due to palkhi procession in the city on Wednesday.
Senapati Bapat road witnessed heavy traffic due to palkhi procession in the city on Wednesday. ( Ravindra Joshi/HT PHOTO )

Four-wheeler traffic, metro work create traffic hurdles

The city witnessed traffic chaos in various areas as the Sant Dnyaneshwar and Sant Tukaram palkhi processions arrived in city on Wednesday.

Raja Bahadur Mill road in Sangamvadi witnessed heavy traffic flow as the road from Pune regional transport (RTO) office chowk to College of Engineering road was closed for vehicles from 1pm onwards. Also, there was traffic chaos at Mal Dhakka chowk, Shivajinagar, and other peth areas.

Aditya Borwake, a resident of Kothrud whose office is located on Boat Club road, said, “I crossed Juna Bazar/Mal Dhakka chowk, but was caught in traffic coming from the Shivajinagar court towards Pune RTO. I missed a meeting in the office as I could not reach on time.”

“The route usually takes me 20 minutes, but today (on Wednesday) it took me more than an hour,” said Borwake.

Another commuter Sushant Jadhav said, “I usually come from the Sancheti bridge road as I live in Shivajinagar, but today I had to take the diversion to the Court road, Kamgar Putla Vasahat and then towards RTO.”

“The station road was also closed with warkaris entering the peth areas from this side, thus leading to chaos. Two policemen were trying to help control the vehicular traffic in the area,” said Jadhav.

Pankaj Deshmukh, deputy commissioner of police, traffic, said, “Despite informing commuters about the traffic diversions due to palkhi, many were caught in long traffic snarls as the palkhi procession began arriving early at the College of Engineering chowk.”

“We had put up the barricades at Sancheti road and at RTO to avoid traffic snarls, but due to the ongoing metro work, there was traffic chaos,” said Deshmukh.

“We had also advised commuters to avoid driving fourwheelers as in such scenarios, riding a two-wheeler is more convenient,” added Deshmukh.

“This traffic diversion will last till 8:30 pm today (on Wednesday), looking at the pace of the palkhi which is making its way into the city,” said Deshmukh.

 Warkaris (pilgrims) walk towards Pandharpur as they enter in Puneon Wednesday.
Warkaris (pilgrims) walk towards Pandharpur as they enter in Puneon Wednesday. ( Pratham Gokhale/HT Photo )

Wari Nari Shakti initiative organised during procession

The Maharashtra State Commission for Women will organise a Wari Nari Shakti initiative during the palkhi procession. The initiative is a special dindi for women empowerment which includes a Chitra Rath (tableau) to create awareness about laws for women, health and hygiene.

“The initiative will be launched June 27 by Sudhir Mungantiwar, finance minister; Pankaja Munde, minister for child and women welfare and Mukta Tilak, mayor,” said Vijaya Rahatkar, chairman, Maharashtra State Commission for Women.

Rahatkar added, “This initiative will be inaugurated near Shaniwarwada at 10am and the dindi will continue till Bhide wada, with the idea of educating women as well as men about the existing important laws and government schemes for women.”

The key highlights of the Wari Nari Shakti Initiative will be sanitary vending machines and incinerator machines on the routes to create awareness about use of sanitary napkins and women hygiene.

Women and child development ministry has provided major assistance towards this effort. There will also be a film festival to spread the message of women empowerment. The films will be screened at the resting places of the warkaris on both the routes.

A festive fervour gripped Puneites as the Palkhis entered the city on Wednesday.
A festive fervour gripped Puneites as the Palkhis entered the city on Wednesday. ( Sanket Wankhade/HT PHOTO )

Free medical services for warkaris

To offer free treatment as well as in-patient admission to the pilgrims, DY Patil medical college and hospital has set up a 24x7 ward.

Health camps were also conducted right in Alandi and Dighi. Inamdar hospital in Fatimanagar is also providing healthcare for the pilgrims. The services are provided free of cost till the wari remains in Pune, that is three days.

First Published: Jun 27, 2019 15:34 IST

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