“Pandharichi wari ahe mazya ghari | Anik na kari teerth wrata ||”
This dictum of Sant Tukaram, translated as, “I do not need to visit other sites of pilgrimage when my whole family has the tradition of going to Pandharpur”, explains the divine bliss of upholding the age old tradition of Maharashtra which is famously known as the ‘WARI’.
Pandharpur Wari Tradition:
Every year on the eleventh day of the bright moon in the month of Aashaadh, an ocean of devotees leave behind their luxuries, walk through highs and lows only to catch a glimpse of their Lord Vitthal. Millions of ‘Warkaris’ chant the divine name and end the month long journey, by walk, at Pandharpur , the abode of Lord Vitthal and his consort, Rukmini. The Wari tradition has been unbroken and followed with utmost faith for the past 800 years.
The Wari tradition is believed to be started by Sant Tukaram. Chanting and singing praises of the Lord, Sant Tukaram along with other 1,400 devotees set out for a pilgrimage to Pandharpur which is now known as Wari. People participating in this pilgrimage are lovingly called as the ‘Warkaris’. After Sant Tukaram this tradition was carried forward by his family members.
Today this has become a social event where people of all caste, creed and religion walk through the hurdles in their way to reach Pandharpur. The sole motive behind this pilgrimage is to spread the message of uniting with God and foster a sense of belonging amongst fellow beings.
Adding more significance to Wari is the tradition of carrying ‘Palkhis’ (palanquin) of Sant Tukaram and Sant Gyaneshwar to Pandharpur. It depicts the tradition followed by Great Saints for years together. Both the Palkhis leave on the seventh day of the month of Jyeshtha (June) and finally meet at Pandharpur. The ‘Padukas’ or feet imprints are believed to represent the great Saints whose contribution to spirituality was immense.
Life of Waris:
The Warkaris sacrifice all pleasures and comforts while on their way Pandharpur. They uphold a strict vegetarian diet throughout and observe fasts during the pilgrimage. Warkaris wake up early in the morning, take a quick bath and get ready for the day’s journey. Women rise earlier than men to complete other chores. A ‘Tutari’ or wind instrument is blown thrice, signaling the start of the pilgrimage for that day.
Warkaris form themselves into small groups called ‘Dindis’. Warkaris play the cymbals, mrudunga, veena and sing ‘Abhangs’ on their way to Pandharpur. Each Dindi is lead by a flag bearer, following the flag bearer are women carrying Basil leaf plant and drinking water decanters on their heads. Each Dindi prepares food for itself, erects tent and has its own water tankers. People who queue up the road to witness the procession offer fruits, vegetables and other essential itineraries to the Dindi. This nurtures brotherhood amongst the people, reflecting the true spirit of Wari.
Pandharpur Wari Route:
The Palkhi procession of Sant Tukaram starts from Dehu and reaches Pandharpur via Akurdi, Pune, Loni Kalbor, Yavat,Varvand, Baramati, Indapur, Akluj and Wakhri. Sant Gyaneshwar’s begins at Alandi and travels via Pune, Saswad, Jejuri, Lonand, Phaltan, Natepute, Malshiras, Velapur, Shegaon, Wakhri and finally ends at Pandharpur.
Pandharpur Wari 2013:
This year the Pandharpur Wari is expected to begin on 29th June and end on 19th July, 2013.
The traditional Wari imbibes spirituality in one and all. Even today people hold on to this tradition and pray to Lord Vitthal for bestowing peace and goodwill upon his devotees. This pilgrimage is an example to pure and steadfast devotion to God.
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