For Lord Vishnu devotees, the auspicious occasion of Ashadhi Ekadashi is back. Also known as Maha Ekadashi. To celebrate this day, Pandharpur Waari Yatra is organized every year at the Vitthal-Rukmini temple. Pandharpur is a famous pilgrimage town in the Solapur district of Maharashtra. This year, Ashadhi Ekadashi falls on July 1.
Maharashtra Chief minister Uddhav Thackeray along with his wife, Rashmi Thackeray, and son Aditya Thackery visited the temple to perform the annual pooja. After carrying out the pooja at 2 a.m on July 1, Aditya Thackeray took to twitter.
Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray told the media that he prayed for the welfare of people of his state. He also wished to make India corona free. By handing over a cheque of Rs 5 crore to the Pandharpur Municipal Council, Uddhav Thackeray expressed his gratitude towards the devotes and the council for cooperating with the state government. He is also considering taking up some development initiatives in Pandharpur town.
At this time of the year, a vast procession is gathered in the Pandharpur temple. Owing to the coronavirus crisis in India, the state government had earlier decided to put off the Yatra. But to keep the time-honored traditions alive and not to let the morale of people down, the government gave a green signal to the Yatra. But it limited the number of people during Pandharpur Yatra. Vikas Dhage Patil, one of the chief trustees of Alandi temple, had confirmed, “The prestigious ‘paduka’ of the seven palkis will be taken to Pandharpur. This time there won’t be any wari (devotes)…”.
In a video conferencing, the state leaders concluded that all the religious activities associated with the Yatra would be banned. The decision came after a locality of 30 houses near Alandi temple ( from where Pandharpur yatra begins) was sealed. A woman in her 40s has reported dying from the virus.
Amid all these, people are very excited about the Pandharpur yatra. The Shahenshah of Bollywood, Amitabh Bachchan, wished his fans on twitter. He never really misses the opportunity to spread positivity and wish his followers on special occasions.
The Age-old Ritual
The Vithoba temple is considered as an abode of Lord Vithoba or Vitthal and his wife, Rukmini. It is believed that Lord Vitthal is the manifestation of Lord Vishnu. According to the Hindu mythology, on the day of Ashadhi Ekadashi Lord Vishnu goes into sleep in Ksheersagar. He wakes up after four months on Prabodhini Ekadashi. The holy period of 4 months is called Chaturmas, as per the Hindu calendar.
Devotes perform an annual pilgrimage on foot known as ‘Wari’ to Pandharpur. They carry Lord Vitthal in ‘Palkis’ from Alandi (a small village) and Dehu (a district in Pune) to Pandharpur. This Yatra usually goes for over 18 days. Devotees sing prayers and hymns in the Pandharpur temple and also during the Yatra. The holy place is thronged with lakhs of Lord Vitthal followers.
The devotes known as ‘Warkaris’ or ‘Varkaris.’ Many observe fast on Ashadhi Ekadashi. During fasting, they avoid eating grains, cereals, and vegetables like onions.
A New Way to Celebrate
There is no denying the fact that lockdown has gripped the entire nation, and mass religious gatherings are also banned. But it is also true that religious fanatics are getting wrestles. The Ashadhi Ekadashi holds significant importance for Warkaris or the followers of Lord Vitthal.
To make the devotes happy and contended, the Pandharpur temple has started online facilities. Now, anyone can enjoy the virtual experience of Bhakti (devotion) on vitthalrukminimandir.org. Especially for the thousands of Lord Vitthal followers out there, the temple has begun ‘Online Darshan’ so that they can not miss this holy occurrence.