Vitthal Devotees Start Their Annual Walking Pilgrimage To Pandharpur

Vitthal Devotees Start Their Annual Walking Pilgrimage To Pandharpur

The tradition, believed to be 700-800 years old, commemorates a pilgrimage from the days of Sant Dnyaneshwar, a saint, poet, and philosopher of the Bhakti religious tradition who lived in the 13th century, to the shrine of Vitthal, an incarnation of Lord Vishnu. The saint's father is believed to have started the tradition.

FPJ News ServiceUpdated: Monday, June 17, 2024, 11:34 PM IST
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Hundreds of Warkari participated in 47th years of foot Dindi ceremony on behalf of Sant Rohidas Seva Mandal, Kala Killa, Dharavi and Pandurang Pratishthan from Gateway of India to Pandharpur | Vijay Gohil

The annual pilgrimage to the Lord Vitthal shrine in Pandharpur for Ashadhi Ekadashi has begun, with groups of pilgrims from across Maharashtra and other states commencing their trek to the temple town in Maharashtra's Solapur district.

The tradition, believed to be 700-800 years old, commemorates a pilgrimage from the days of Sant Dnyaneshwar, a saint, poet, and philosopher of the Bhakti religious tradition who lived in the 13th century, to the shrine of Vitthal, an incarnation of Lord Vishnu. The saint's father is believed to have started the tradition.

While the main pilgrimages take place between Dehu near Pune, the Samadhi, or the resting place, of Sant Dnyaneshwar, and from Alandi, the Samadhi of another Bhakti poet Tukaram, groups from Mumbai and thousands of other towns and villages join the huge procession of pilgrims walking to the holy town. They carry relics associated with saints in a palanquin or palkhi and reach Pandharpur before July 17, 2024, for Ashadi Ekadashi, the eleventh day of the Shukla Paksha (bright fortnight) of the Hindu lunar month of Ashadh (June-July). The palkhi from Dehu will leave on June 28 to reach Pandharpur on July 16, while the pilgrims from Alandi will leave on June 29, The distance between these towns and Pandhapur is approximately 500 km. The Alandi pilgrimage is a little over 300 years old.

Ashadh Ekadashi, also called Shayani Ekadashi, is an auspicious day for  Vaishnavas, the followers of Vishnu, as it is regarded to be the day when the deity commences his sleep. There are four such pilgrimages in a year but the one during Ashadh is the most popular.

On Monday, groups of pilgrims, called Warkaris - from the word 'Wari' or annual pilgrimage, left Mumbai. One group of over 100 pilgrims from the Sant Rohidas Seva Mandal, Dharavi, left from the Gateway of India in the morning. The group is dedicated to the propagation of the teachings of Sant Rohidas or Ravidas, another saint from the Bhakti tradition. They will reach Pandharpur on Ashadh Ekadashi day on July 17. Their route will take them from Mumbai to Alandi in 12 days. More pilgrims will join the group as the pilgrims progress on their journey. They walk for an average of 20 to 22 km per day. 

Describing the journey they will undertake, Shantaram Karande, a teacher in a Dharavi school, said, "We carry both cooked food and groceries. When we run out of cooked food, we prepare the food ourselves during the breaks. We carry tents to cook during the rains," said Karande, a resident of Panvel.

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