Pandharpur Yatra is a famous procession where devotees visit the Lord Vitthal Temple on foot.
By, Virendra Singh
Bengaluru, March 19, 2019
Devotees of this long march are termed as ‘Warkari’ who go to Lord Vitthal Temple in Pandharpur. Devotees carry a Palkhi with them, which is a tradition to carry it all the way to Pandharpur. It is believed that this practice is 1,000 years old to make god feel happy, devotees carry Palkhi with them.
People come from all over to Pandharpur on foot, which is the specialty of this procession. The 225-kilometer long Palkhi takes 21 days and is held from mid-June to mid-July. It is one of the holy processions for the people of Maharashtra.
History of this procession is that in 1685, Narayan Baba introduced Palkhi to bring some change as a sign of social respect. From then, it is being followed and attracts tens of thousands of devotees to participate in the procession. This 600 kilometers slow cortege does not have any barrier of any religion, caste or creed.
Warkaris come from all over the country and all classes of society barefoot and March by dancing and singing devotional songs. One factor which makes this procession special is that warkaris stay at night at random villages where the villagers provide them food and shelter.
The next day the procession starts again with no hurry or any protest. From the past few years, devotees are increasing due to its popularity of walking so much. New devotees are joining the procession every other year. There is a total of 24 temples in Pandharpur with many ancient palaces and eight bathing ghats where the devotees take a holy dip. Pandharpur has grown up now with a population of around one lakh. Colonies and Infrastructure is also growing up to provide facilities to the devotees.
Ganesh Shelke, a devotee from Aurangabad says, “Since the last two years I went to Pandharpur. Taking part in this holy procession makes me feel happy. It does not matter we have to walk for hundreds of kilometers but I get energy and will power from God to reach there.”