Ashadha Ekadashi Pandharpur Wari – A Pilgrimage of Devotion and Joy

Ashadha Ekadashi Pandharpur Wari – A Pilgrimage of Devotion and Joy

Ashadhi Ekadashi, which typically falls in the month of July, is very auspicious and special for the devotees of Lord Vitthala of Pandharpur. The devotees take part in their annual pilgrimage on this Ekadashi, referred to as “Wari” in Marathi. Wari is an approximately 21-day procession in which devotees from various parts of Maharashtra march to Pandharpur on foot, concluding the pilgrimage at Pandharpur on the day of Ashadha Ekadashi. In this Wari, millions of devotees carry the Padukas (wooden sandals) of Sants and Gurus in Palakhis (palanquins) from their villages to Pandharpur. Among the numerous Palakhis that take part in this pilgrimage, there are two prominent Palakhis: one is of Sant Jnaneshwar Maharaj, which starts from Alandi, and the other one is of Sant Tukaram Maharaj, which starts from Dehu. All other Palakhis join one of these two Palakhis on the way.

People participate in Wari from their villages in groups with an organizational unit known as Dindi, which is led by the head of the group. The Dindi takes care of the food, accommodation, and other essentials required during the pilgrimage.

During the march, men wear white attire and ladies wear vibrant sarees. They carry saffron flags, colored banners, and decorated holy basil (tulsi) pots while chanting the divine names of Lord Vitthala, Sant Jnaneshwar, Sant Tukaram, and other Sants in unison to the tunes of drums, cymbals, and tanpuras. This is such a spectacular scene to witness millions of people marching with full energy towards Pandharpur, like an enormous river gushing through the mountains.

The Palakhis reach Pandharpur a day before Ekadashi. On the day of Ekadashi, the devotees take a dip in the holy river Chandrabhaga before proceeding to have darshan of Lord Vitthala.

The Wari tradition has been followed for over 800 years in the state of Maharashtra. The devotees who follow this tradition are called Warakari.

Datta Paunarkar, Houston, TX
Illustration: Chandrashekar Srivatsa, Pleasanton CA
Images: Creative commons license images from the Internet

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