Maharashtra CM Uddhav Thackeray
Maharashtra CM Uddhav Thackeray

Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Monday left here for Pandharpur in Solapur district by road to participate in the annual 'maha puja' of Lord Vitthal on the occasion of 'Ashadhi Ekadashi' on Tuesday.

Thackeray himself drove his private vehicle as he left for the temple town, around 360km from Mumbai, accompanied by his wife Rashmi amid heavy rains in the metropolis and neighbouring areas.

The chief minister's convoy is expected to reach Pandharpur, which houses a famous temple dedicated to Lord Vitthal and Goddess Rukmini, in the night.

The official 'maha puja' in the temple will take place at 2 am on Tuesday.

It has been a long-standing tradition in Maharashtra for the CM and his spouse to attend the early morning prayers at the temple on Ashadi Ekadashi.

Ekadashi marks the culmination of a pilgrimage called called 'wari' that devotees undertake from across the state on foot to reach the temple town.

However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Maharashtra government has not allowed the pilgrimage on foot for the last years.

The 'Pandharpur wari", where devotees from all over the state walk down to the town, every year has been cancelled for the second time in a row due to the pandemic.

The palkhis (palanquins) carrying 'padukas' (footwears) of saint-poets Dnyaneshwar and Tukaram left for Pandharpur in flower-decked buses from Alandi and Dehu, respectively, in Pune district earlier in the day.

This is the second year that the palkhis are travelling in buses instead of the traditional 250km procession.

The wari is the annual pilgrimage to Pandharpur carrying 'padukas' (footwears) of the two saints from their shrines.

Every year a warkari couple is chosen to perform the official puja with the chief minister.

Ashadi Ekadashi is one of the most important Hindu festivals.

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Free Press Journal