The onset of the monsoon in Southwest India commemorates the Hindu month of Aashaadh; a time when thousands and thousands of vaishnavites across Maharashtra and the Deccan plateau undertake the waari.
Today, June 29th 2016 is the Prasthaan or the departure of the Sant Dnyaneshwar waari from Alandi. The pilgrims or waarkaris will walk nearly 27 kms to reach Bhavani Peth in Pune from Alandi this evening. The tarmac road burns up on sunny days and a less-experienced waarkari will want to hop into the next vehicle. Except, the vehicles too are slowly winding their way through the throngs of people and walking to Pune might actually be a faster option.
The waarkaris will travel a distance of nearly 230 kms from Alandi to Pandharpur in about 15 days. The waari culminates in Pandharpur on the eve of Aashadhi Ekaadashi,when thousands will line up at the doors of the Vitthal temple for darshan of their ‘sakha’ or friend. Mukhadarshan (darshan of the idol) could take days so many waarkaris opt for kalas darshan (paying obeisance to the temple tower) and return home after a bath in the Chandrabhaga River.
Here’s a photo essay in three parts to commemorate the Aashaadhi Waari 2016.
It’s the month of Ashadh and soon Ashadhi Ekadashi will be upon us-which means warkaris from across the states of Maharashtra, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana are marching towards Pandharpur as I post this – braving the heat, rains (if at all the Rain Gods decide to be merciful this year), blisters on their feet, sunstrokes, knee pain, and assorted physical ailments..all in an effort to have a glimpse of their beloved God, Vitthal.
Now to use the words of Madonna,
“I’m not religious
But I feel so moved
Makes me want to pray
Pray you’ll always be here
I’m not religious
But I feel such love
Makes me want to pray…..”
It’s the warkaris who truly make me believe …..what else but faith would make someone walk 250 kms over 18 days in all kinds of weather on all kinds of terrain, with lack of public sanitation, sleep in tents on hard ground, drink tanker water and bathe in the same.
There’s a lot I can say about my experience on the wari and what it taught me..but I shy away from revealing its most private lessons to me…that’s a secret I share, I can safely say, with Vitthal himself…
Until then, here’s a short photo essay on these mascots of faith–the warkaris…