Both 'palkhis' (palanquins) of Sant Dnyaneshwar Maharaj and Sant Tukaram Maharaj received a grand welcome in Pune on Monday, with the presence of esteemed G20 guests adding to the excitement. Pune Guardian Minister Chandrakant Patil enlightened the G20 guests about the rich traditions of the warkari sect in the state. The guests were captivated by the vibrant procession and its cultural significance.
Some guests captured the memorable moments through photographs, while others immersed themselves in the spiritual ambience. The female guests even embraced the tradition by gracefully lifting Tulshi Vrundavan on their heads, mirroring the practice of Warkari women carrying a tulsi plant.
Warkaris will stay in Peth areas of the city
Every year, the devotees embark on a walking pilgrimage to Pandharpur, culminating on the auspicious day of Ashadhi Ekadashi, which falls on June 29 this year. The palanquins of Sant Dnyaneshwar Maharaj and Sant Tukaram Maharaj will be housed at Nivdungya Vithoba Mandir in Nana Peth and Shri Palkhi Vithoba Temple in Bhawani Peth, respectively.
To ensure a smooth and orderly procession, a robust contingent of seven thousand police personnel has been deployed by Pune Police. The Sant Dnyaneshwar Maharaj Palkhi will follow the Pune-Saswad-Lonand route, while the Sant Tukaram Maharaj Palkhi will proceed via the Pune-Solapur route. The procession coordinators, police, devotees, and trustees are working together to ensure a harmonious and safe journey.
A day after an argument between the police and warkaris- devotees of Lord Vitthal- outside a temple at Alandi in triggered a row, the procession of palanquins progressed smoothly in coordination with police, devotees and trustees on Monday.
An argument had broken out between warkaris and the police when some devotees scrambled to gain entry into Sant Dnyaneshwar Maharaj Samadhi Mandir in Alandi town, 22 km from Pune city, during the ceremonial procession which is part of the annual Ashadhi Ekadashi pilgrimage to Pandharpur.
The Opposition parties had claimed that the police resorted to lathi-charge on some warkaris outside the temple, but state Home Minister Devendra Fadnavis and the local police denied the claim, saying it was just an argument.
Pimpri Chinchwad police commissioner Vinay Kumar Chaube said had the police not stopped a group of warkaris from entering the samadhi mandir on Sunday, the situation could have caused a stampede.
Procession of warkaris progressing smoothly day after altercation
"The progress of both the palanquins is smooth. There is good coordination between the police, trustees, and warkaris. As per tradition, both the 'palkis' were cordially welcomed by the Pimpri Chinchwad police and crossed our jurisdiction. They are now progressing towards Pune city," he told reporters.
Chaubey said to avoid a repeat of the last year's incident at the samadhi mandir where a stampede-like situation had prevailed, the police, district administration, the temple's trustees, and warkaris held a meeting and decided that only 75 members from each 'dindi' procession will be allowed entry inside the temple at the time of departure (of palanquin) on Sunday.
"The chiefs of these 'dindis' (troupes of warkaris) responded positively and limited their numbers to 75," the police officer said.
While the plan was in place and there was proper coordination, suddenly a group of 400 to 500 students from a warkari education trust, who were not entitled to enter, sought entry and this led to an argument with the police on Sunday, he said.
"If the police personnel had not stopped them, the situation could have escalated and resulted in a stampede," Chaubey added.