For the second year in a row, Pune’s annual Palkhi event will take place in a low-key manner because of the COVID-19 pandemic. While the Maharashtra Government has allowed the procession to take place, a large gathering of devotees will be replaced with only a few participants. According to Pune Mirror, only 100 devotees have been allowed to walk with the procession from Dehu and Alandi. 10 buses will be provided for the ‘warkaris’, with two buses for each ‘Dhindi’ that will leave from Pune. Dhindhis of both Sant Tukaram and Sant Dnyaneshwar will start their journey on July 1 and 2 from Dehugaon and Alandi, and will move towards Pandharpur. The procession will be carried out with strict social distancing norms and the Pandharpur Temple will remain shut for outsiders. Last year, the procession had to be cancelled because of the COVID-19. The revered padukas were taken by bus in view of the pandemic situation.
Expressing their disappointment over the government’s decision to impose restrictions, the warkaris and the organisations involved in the procession said their sentiments have been hurt. However, they added that the government order will not be opposed, and they are ready to follow the norms laid down by the government.
Meanwhile, Rajabhau Chopdar, president of the Chopdar foundation, which is one of the oldest organisation to take part in the Palki Procession, said that the government should reconsider its decision. “Several Social gatherings and activities are now allowed with lockdown relaxation in place. They should have allowed us as well. We are ready to follow all norms and measure " said Chopdar, reports Pune Mirror. Asserting that a lot of sentiments are attached to the event, he asked the government to allow the procession to take place in its original grand way.
Maharashtra has recorded the maximum number of COVID-19 cases along with the most deaths caused by the virus. Though the number of cases and deaths have come drastically down from what they were during the peak of the COVID-19 second wave in the country, it still has got a long way to go. The state reported 10,442 new COVID-19 cases on June 13 with 2,771 deaths.