Maha Warkaris carrying holy 'padukas' leave for Pandharpur

    Pune, Jun 30 (PTI) Two flower-decked buses carrying
the 'padukas' (holy footprints) of saint-poets Dnyaneshwar and
Tukaram left with a limited number of warkaris from here on
Tuesday for Pandhapur temple town in neighbouring Solapur
district on the eve of the 'Ashadhi Ekadashi'.
    Lakhs of 'warkaris', or devotees of Lord Vitthal, from
various parts of Maharashtra and some neighbouring states
throng the temple in Pandharpur every year on the occasion of
'Ashadhi Ekadashi'.
    However, in view of the COVID-19 pandemic, the
Maharashtra government has cancelled the annual wari
pilgrimage, which is characterised by people walking to
Pandharpur with palanquins from various parts of the state.
    The government has allowed 'padukas' of saints
Dnyaneshwar and Tukaram to be taken to Pandharpur in bus with
only 20 'warkaris' and a curfew has been imposed in the town.
    Amid chants of 'Jai Hari Vitthal' and 'Dnyanoba Mauli
Tukaram', 20 warkaris set off in a state transport bus, decked
with flowers and garlands, carrying the 'padukas' of Saint
Dnyaneshwar from Alandi in Pune around 1 pm, Alandi temple
trust's chief trustee Vikas Dhage said.
    The bus will take the traditional route through Pune,
Satara and Solapur districts and will not stop anywhere on the
way, he said.
    Besides, another decorated bus carrying the 'padukas'
of Saint Tukaram left from Dehu village in Pune with a limited
number of warkaris.
    The warkaris, wearing masks, played 'taal and
mridanga' before the buses left. The roads in Alandi and Dehu
from where the buses set off were lined with colourful
    The district administration said nearly 90 warkaris
were allowed to accompany the procession after COVID-19 tests.
    "Fortunately, all the warkaris who are part of the
procession tested negative," Pune Collector Naval Kishore Ram
said, adding that social distancing norms and hygiene
guidelines were being followed.
    The Solapur district administration has imposed a
curfew in Pandharpur to prevent the gathering of people in the
pilgrimage town. PTI SPK

(This story has not been edited by THE WEEK and is auto-generated from PTI)