The Palkhi festival

The Palkhi festival

News Analysis   /   The Palkhi festival

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Published on: June 14, 2023

Source: The Indian Express

The Palkhi Context:

At the 800-year-old Warkari community's palkhi festival, delegates from different nations who are in the city for the G20 Digital Economy Working Group Conference were able to observe.

Palkhi Festival:

Palkhi is an ancient tradition that originated in Maharashtra, India, started by saints and continued by their followers known as varkaris, who follow the vari ritual.

Varkaris are followers of the Hindu religious sect that worships Vithoba, an incarnation of Krishna.

They actively participate in the Palkhi festival and embark on the pilgrimage to Pandharpur as an expression of their devotion to Vithoba.

It is an annual pilgrimage, known as yatra, to Pandharpur, the sacred abode of the Hindu deity Vithoba in Maharashtra, dedicated to honoring the deity.

Palkhi Procession:

  • The varkaris undertake a journey on foot, accompanying palkhis (chariots) carrying the paduka (sandals) of revered saints, particularly Dnyaneshwar and Tukaram.
  • Dnyaneshwar’s palakhi departs from Alandi, while Tukaram’s palakhi begins its journey from Dehu, both located in the Pune district of Maharashtra.
  • The Palkhi procession commences in the month of Jyeshth (June) and lasts for 22 days.
  • Every year, on the eleventh day of the first half of the month of Ashadh, the Palkhi reaches Pandharpur.
  • Upon reaching Pandharpur on Ashadi Ekadashi, the devotees take a sacred dip in the Chandrabhaga River/Bhima River before proceeding to visit the Vitthal temple.

Historical Significance:

  1. The tradition of the Palkhi has been followed by various saints, including Sant Dnyaneshwar and Sant Tukaram.
  2. In 1685, Narayan Baba, the youngest son of Tukaram, introduced the Palkhi as a symbol of social respect, bringing innovation to the existing dindi-wari tradition.
  3. He placed Tukaram’s silver padukas in the Palkhi and proceeded with his dindi to Alandi, where he added Dnyaneshwar’s padukas to the same Palkhi.
  4. For several years, this tradition of twin Palkhis continued, but disputes within Tukaram’s family arose in 1830 regarding rights and privileges.
  5. Consequently, a decision was made to separate the Palkhis, resulting in two distinct Palkhis: Tukaram Palkhi from Dehu (Pune) and Dnyaneshwar Palkhi from Alandi (Pune).
  6. Since then, both Palkhis meet in Pune for a brief halt and then diverge at Hadapsar, only to reunite again at Wakhri, a village near Pandharpur.
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