On Sunday night, unmindful of the rains that lashed the metropolitan region, 68-year-old Rachana Vaidya made sure that she packed her belongings to leave for Pandharpur. At Pandharpur, she will make it a point to visit Lord Vitthoba Temple (Shri Vitthal-Rukmini Mandir) on the day of Ashadi Ekadashi (June 29) to have darshan and seek blessings of the Lord and Mother. An avid Lord Vithoba Bhakt, she even did the 21 day wari (pilgrimage walk) for 12 years. "Now due to age that is not possible. But she makes it a point to stay there for the entire Chaturmas period besides taking darshan on Ekadashi day and listening to Dnyaneshwari Keertan and Tukaram Gatha," said Kshitija Vaidya, her daughter who too makes it a point to go there.
"Since my daughter was born, I have been going to Pandharpur during the Kartiki Ekadashi. As that one falls closer to Dilwai and there is vacation for my daughter, we can go together at that time," said Vaidya. On the day of Ashadi Ekadashi, Vaidya visits Lord Vitthal Mandir and Dnayaneshwar Mandir in Thane. "At home, I offer 1,001 Tulsiji at the feet of Lord Vitthal. Tulsi-ji is his favourite. Fasting is also done on this day," said Vaidya.
Ashadi Ekadashi on June 29
Ashadi Ekadashi or Devshayani Ekadashi that will be observed on June 29 (Thursday) is observed during the Ashada month of the Hindu Calendar. It marks the commencement of the slumber of Lord Vishnu (Lord Vitthal) on the sheshnag for a four month period also called Chaturmas. "He gets up after four months. This period is called chaturmas. This time it is adhik masyam (extra period) so my mother will be staying in Pandharpur for five months," said Vaidya.
Devotional celebrations and crowds
Devotees on this day make it a point to listen to Sant Dnyaneshwar and Tukaram's bhajan. "At our temple through the day we will have 25 bhajan mandalis who will be singing bhajans for one hour," informed Nitin Mhatre, one of the five trustees of Vithoba Ganpati Mahadeo Mandir Trust that looks after Vitthal Mandir (Prati Pandharpur) in Wadala. The temple will see around six lakh devotees visit the temple on the day of Ekadashi. "We will have an early morning 4 am Mahaabhishek of the Lord after which the temple will be open. This year the Temple will open from 4 am on the 28th and will shut only after the last of the devotees have left after 29th," said Mhatre of the 406 year old temple whose Pran Pratishthan is said to be done by Sant Tuakaram. "It is also the reason it is called Prati (duplicate) Pandharpur of the main temple. The idols of the temple were found at Chandrabhaga river. Back then when the temple was first made, it was like an old style house with mangalore tiles," said Mhatre.
Schools to educate children on Ekadashi
Now it resembles a proper temple with a Kalash of which people who perform walking pilgrimage in the night take darshan before leaving. "Around 251 dindis will be coming to the temple. These come by night of the 28th or on the 29th. They will come walking from around the city and extended suburbs. A number of devotees either take darshan by coming inside or of the Kalash if there are too many people. This time too we expect around six lakhs people to visit the temple on the day of Ekadashi."
To ensure that children also get to know about Ekadashi, schools too will be having plays around it. "Ashadi Ekadashi activities are planned and conducted for our pre-primary school childrens. They are dressed in a way to mark the Ekadashi and have Palkhi yatra too. Idea is that they get to know the relevance of Ekadashi," said an official from Shree Mauli Mandal High School, Thane.