> Waari, is one of the largest and the longest on-foot pilgrimages in this entire world.
> This tradition is about 700 hundred years old.
> About a million people walk a 250 km route for 21 days from Dehu (carrying Sant Tukaram’s Palkhi or palanquin) or from Alandi(carrying Sant Dnyaneshwar’s Palkhi) and reach Pandharpur on Ashadi-Ekadashi, where the Vitthoba temple is situated on the banks of river Bhima.
|The Palkhi of Sant Tukaram with his 'Padukas' or footprints in it.|
> Vitthal or Panduranga is an incarnation of Lord Vishnu and hence an avatar of Krishna.
>The people who follow this pilgrimage are known as ‘Waarkaris’ and they usually belong to the Vaishnav sect, although any one is free to join the Waari. It is said that the Waari dissolves all the differences between people like caste, creed, profession, rich and poor.
|A vagabond fortune teller|
|A female Waarkari clapping on the beats of Abhangas sung|
|A group of children proceeding with the Palkhi|
>The Waarkaris call each other 'Mauli' while talking which literally means God. It's as if they are talking to the God in one another.
>The Waarkaris wear a U shaped tilak/naam with one black dot and one orange dot on their forehead. This is known as ‘Ashvagandha Gopichand Bukka’
>The Waarkaris travel in different groups, one after the other. These groups are known as ‘Dindis’.
>The Waarkaris sing abhangas, kirtans and devotional songs all along, praising Panduranga/Vitthal, Sant Dnyaneshwar and Sant Tukaram.
|A Waarkari singing and dancing!|
>The Waarkaris either carry the saffron flag or musical instruments like the cymbal, the mrudung, the dhol, the taal and the tutari. The women Waarkaris balance the Tulsi plant (Holy Basil plant) or a water pitcher on top of their head throughout the journey. Waarkaris also carry their bear belongings in a make-do jhola which is strung against their shoulder or balanced atop their heads. That’s the closest they can get to backpacking!
|With the Veena|
|A women carrying a Tulsi Vrindavan|
>There is a sense of unity, group psychology and lightness as these Waarkaris proceed singing and dancing. The exuberance and sheer euphoria swallows their tiredness and sorrows. Their souls are at peace. All the worries and materialistic joys are discarded to embrace peace of mind, body and soul.
|Sporting an Orange Turban|
>As they pass through various towns, halting for the night, natives of those towns and villages provide them with food. They like eating simple meals like the traditional Zhunka-Bhakar and bananas in between breaks.
>It is said that smaller towns and villages experience a huge turnover during Waari and the amount earned is enough for them to survive the entire year.
|The Balloon Seller|
|The Business Bubble Boy|
>Pandharpur is so crowded, two days before Ashadi-Ekadashi that steps of shops and homes or even a small place in a veranda are rented out for exorbitant prices for the Waarkaris to spend the night.
|Carrying Sant Dnyaneshwar's Idol|
|A lot of foreigners and people from other states flock the Waari|
>Waari is magical in its own sense. It’s a huge jashn (celebration) for lakhs of bhakts (devotees) coming together willingly to immerse themselves in spirituality.