Warkari Community’s Palkhi Festival in Maharashtra
Palkhi is a revered tradition that dates back 1000 years and was initiated by saints from Maharashtra. This tradition is carried forward by devoted followers known as Warkaris. The Palkhi is an annual pilgrimage (yatra) to Pandharpur, a significant place associated with the Hindu deity Vithoba, located in Maharashtra. The purpose of this pilgrimage is to pay homage and show reverence to the deity Vithoba, making it a deeply religious and spiritually significant event for the Warkaris and devotees who participate in this tradition. The Palkhi serves as a symbolic journey of devotion and faith, connecting the followers with their spiritual beliefs and strengthening their bond with the divine.
History of the Palkhi Festival
Every saint, including Sant Dnyaneshwar and Sant Tukaram, followed the Vari tradition.
- However, it was in the year 1685 that Narayan Baba, the youngest son of Tukaram, introduced a change in the dindi-wari tradition by introducing the Palkhi as a symbol of social respect.
- He placed Tukaram’s silver padukas (footsteps) in the Palkhi and carried them along with his dindi to Alandi, where he also included Dnyaneshwar’s padukas in the same Palkhi.
- This tradition of twin Palkhis continued every year.
- However, in 1830, disputes arose within Tukaram’s family regarding rights and privileges, prompting some thoughtful individuals to suggest the separation of the twin Palkhis.
- Thus, from that time onwards, two separate Palkhis were organized: the Tukaram Palkhi from Dehu (Pune) and the Dnyaneshwar Palkhi from Alandi (Pune).
Both Palkhis meet in Pune for a brief halt and then diverge at Hadapsar, only to reunite again at Wakhri, a village near Pandharpur. This new arrangement ensured the continuation of the Palkhi tradition while addressing internal family conflicts, allowing devotees to participate in the Palkhi pilgrimage with reverence and unity.
During the Palkhi pilgrimage, devotees walk alongside chariots (palkhis) that carry the sacred paduka (sandals) of revered saints, particularly Dnyaneshwar and Tukaram.
- The Palkhi procession begins from Alandi for Dnyaneshwar’s paduka and from Dehu for Tukaram’s paduka, both located in the Pune district of Maharashtra.
- The Palkhi journey commences in the month of Jyeshth (June) and spans a duration of 22 days.
- On the eleventh day of the first half of the month of Ashadh, the Palkhi arrives at its destination, Pandharpur.
- Upon reaching Pandharpur on the auspicious day of Ashadi Ekadashi, the devotees participating in the Palkhi pilgrimage take a sacred bath in the revered Chandrabhaga River/Bhima River before proceeding to visit the Vitthal temple.
- This ritual is considered highly significant and holds deep religious importance for the devotees, as they seek blessings and spiritual fulfillment during their visit to the sacred site.
Warkari or Varkari community is a community or sect in the state of Maharashtra.
- This community has been associated with the bhakti spiritual tradition of Hinduism since the thirteenth century CE.
- The Warkaris hold a deep reverence for Lord Vitthal or Vithoba, who is considered an incarnation of Lord Krishna, and they worship him as the primary deity of Pandharpur.
- The Warkari community recognizes and celebrates the teachings and contributions of numerous poet-saints, known as sants.
- These sants have played a significant role in spreading the message of devotion and spirituality through their compositions.
- Some of the well-known sants associated with the Warkari tradition include Dnyaneshwar, Namdev, Chokhamela, Eknath, and Tukaram.
- These poet-saints have left a rich legacy of devotional literature in the Marathi language, which continues to inspire and guide the Warkari community and devotees today.
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Warkari Community’s Palkhi Festival – FAQs
Who was Sant Tukaram?
Sant Tukaram was a 17th-century Marathi poet-saint of the Bhakti movement. He was born in Dehu, a town near Pune in Maharashtra. He was a devotee of Vitthal (a form of Lord Krishna), the supreme God in Vaishnavism. He is especially revered by the Warkari community. Tukaram’s poetry is widely recognized as the climactic point of the Bhagawat tradition which began with Namdev.
Who was Sant Dnyaneshwar?
Sant Dnyaneshwar also referred to as Jnaneshwar, Jnanadeva, Dnyandev, or Mauli, was a 13th-century Indian Marathi saint, poet, philosopher, and yogi of the Nath and Warkari tradition. In his short life of 21 years, he authored Dnyaneshwari (a commentary on the Bhagavad Gita) and Amrutanubhav. These are the oldest surviving literary works in the Marathi language and are considered to be milestones in Marathi literature.