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iXiGOers Aug 01 2013

What is the significance of the Pandharpur Yatra?

Kasturi Saikia Aug 01 2013
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Pandharpur, the abode of Lord Vitthal, is the venue of a sacred rendezvous for over a million pilgrims who walk for several days in one of the world’s biggest pilgrimages, the Pandharpur Yatra. The pilgrimage, or vari, is an 800- year-old tradition, tracing its origins to Sant Dnyaneshwar, who founded the Bhagvat sect, eventually adopted by the great Bhakti saint-poets of Maharashtra, Sant Namdeo, Sant Tukaram and Sant Eknath. These saints contributed to the philosophical foundation of the vari tradition. The vari carries the padukas representing these four sants of the Bhakti tradition to Lord Vitthal’s temple in Pandharpur.

Over 150 varis start from different villages in Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Gujarat and Maharashtra — some walk for over two months, others for about 10 days to three weeks. And the sea of humanity converges at Pandharpur Yatra on Ashadhi Ekadashi (in July) and one can feel nothing but love and devotion in the air. Thousands of varkaris reach Pandharpur directly by vehicles, but the charm lies in going on foot, among thousands of varkaris chanting abhangs. The routes of the Sant Dnyaneshwar Vari (from Alandi) and the Sant Tukaram Vari (from Dehu) have remained the same over centuries. They meet at the Varkari village near Pandharpur, and then walk together.

It isn’t difficult to be a varkari — there are innumerable dindis (groups of varkaris) from all major cities in the state including Mumbai and Pune, which provide for food and accommodation upon registration. There are no rituals or preconditions to become a varkari — no caste, gender or class barriers. As Tukaram said: “All you need is a heart full of love....” There are women and children in every dindi. Most dindis charge nominal fees.

Pandharpur is 212 km SE of Pune in Solapur District, in south-eastern Maharashtra; Alandi and Dehu are both 25 km from Pune. Contact the Sant Dnyaneshwar Samadhi Mandir at Alandi for information on how to join a dindi.

Telephone: +91-2135-232234

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