Thursday, July 4, 2013

Halfway To Paradise

     3rd of July 2013, this is the second time I have been to Varkari. Vari or Varkari is a religious movement of the people of the Hindu religion which takes place in Maharashtra and northern part of Karnataka. This tradition is followed by the people of Maharashtra for more than seven hundred years.

Vithoba (Vitthala) idole
     Every year pilgrims (Vari) carries Paduka (sandals) of the saints in a palkhi and travelled from their location to Pandharpur which is known as Varkari they gathered at Pandharpur on ekadashi (The 11th day) of the Hindu lunar calendar month of Aashaadha (which falls sometime in July).

     Varkari is dedicated to the worship of Vithoba (Vitthal). People worship Vithoba in the form of Lord Krishna, an incarnation of lord Vishnu. The teachers responsible for establishing and supporting the movement through its history include  Dnyaneshwar, Namdev, Chokhamela, Eknath, and Tukaram. Devotees of Vitthala who gather from all over Maharashtra, walking all the way from their homes to Pandharpur to have the holy darshan of their beloved deity.

5:30 am at the beginning
     My journey began in the morning at 5:30 am when we all gathered at Swargate station. We had a group of 42 people including all the family members, friends and relatives. We started walking by taking the name of lord Vitthala. It was still dark and you can hardly see the view clearly but still I can see how pilgrims from all the places are walking and adjoining us, it's a mesmerizing view.

     Slightly view is getting more and more clear, number of pilgrims are growing bigger and bigger. White clothes on their body, orange flags on hands repeating good name of the lord walking and dancing. Their attire making hard to look them different from one another. They all looks same, surely this is one of the primary reasons for doing this hardship, walking all this long looking alike because in the eyes of God we all are same and be treated as equal.

     Around 9 O'clock in the morning we had our breakfast and around 12:30 in the noon we had our lunch. We halted for 6 times during our journey for tea, breakfast and lunch. And 7 O'clock in the evening we reached to Saswad, our destination from where we came back to our home. This is not the end for the extreme pilgrims they had to go ahead for around 180 Kms more to get to the Pandharpur. This journey takes 18 days of walking to get to the Pandharpur.
Children waiting up for Palkhi

     The fact is pilgrim's walk all this long not to get anything from god, this journey is to show thanks towards the god. They see God in each and every person. I am happy to know that pilgrims walk for so long just to see and meet their God, they are not carrying any wishes in their heart and they do not want anything in return except to see God and to feel purity.

     We have walked in devotion for the Shri Dnyaneshwar Maharaj. The actual journey for Dnyaneshwar Maharaj is about 235 kms from Alandi to Pandharpur and we have covered around 40 Kms.

     My legs are paining and I am writing this blog just to tell you how grateful I am for being the part of this journey. And yes I have learnt a lot from this.

Glimpse of Palkhi 
     We have started with hundreds of people they grew to thousands and became millions. Everything looks so unorganized but still I am amazed to see how deeply they are so arranged and systematize and no mishap. Everything reached to us was on time and we have completed our journey on time.

      In order to understand the true meaning of Varkari someone recommended me to watch marathi movie 'Gajaar'. Here I am suggesting you the same.

     P. S. - Thanks to Santosh for educating me about Varkari. Thanks to Yashodhan, Saikat and Kaustub for walking along. Thanks to Jaya and Bhavna for taking good care of me and special thanks to all the people for not making me feel unrelated.