Two flower-decked buses, carrying the ‘padukas’ (holy footprints) of Sant Dnyaneshwar along with 40 ‘warkaris’, left from Pune for the Pandharpur temple town in neighbouring Solapur district on Monday as part of the annual ‘wari’ pilgrimage. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Maharashtra government this year did not allow the pilgrimage on foot.
Before the outbreak of COVID-19, thousands of ‘warkaris’, or devotees of Lord Vitthal, used to join the pilgrimage to go to Pandhapur on the auspicious day of ‘Ashadhi Ekadashi’, which falls on Tuesday. The state government recently decided that the holy footprints of saint-poets Dnyaneshwar and Tukaram will be taken to Pandharpur this year by bus with a limited number of warkaris.
Vikas Dhage Patil, one of the trustees of the Pune-based Alandi temple, said 40 warkaris (20 in each bus) left from here for Pandharpur in two state transport buses on Monday morning amid the chants of “Jai Hari Vitthal" and “Dnyanoba Mauli Tukaram. They wore masks and adhered to social distancing norms, he said.
“The palkhi (palanquin) will reach Wakhri, a village near Pandhapur, by afternoon and from there, the padukas will be taken to the temple town on foot," he added. The warkaris selected to take part in the procession had undergone RT-PCR tests and they were permitted to travel after their reports came out negative for the coronavirus.
Besides, the palanquin of Sant Tukaram Maharaj also left from a temple in Dehu near here for Pandharpur in the presence of 40 warkaris in two buses.