Maharashtra is blessed with the presence of ‘Vitthala’ not only in the temple at Pandharpur but also in the heart of every individual of the State. It is adorably known as ‘Mauli’- mother for each and everyone. Ekadashi – 11th day of the month of Ashad is the day of celebration.
Ashadi Vari is the folk festival and celebration of Maharashtra. People start walking towards Pandharpur from different parts of Maharashtra and plan it in such a way, so as to reach Pandharpur on the day of Adhadhi Ekadashi. The tradition is more than 500-years-old. Maharashtra is the land of Saints. Palakhi from every such place reaches Pandharpur on Ashadhi Ekadashi.
Pandharpur Palkhi is the most revered pilgrimage of Maharashtra. Pandharpur houses a large and old temple on the banks of Chandrabhaga, which is dedicated to Lord Vitthal and Goddess Rukmini. The temple was constructed in the 13th century. The place is also called Southern Kashi of India. More than architectural character, the place has its own character which has been developed due to the contribution of the public. Dealing with the place is to accommodate and facilitate the increasing number of devotees to Pandharpur and not to deal with the superficial character of architecture. Around 5 to 7 lakhs people participate in this pilgrimage.
The pilgrimage is the living tradition of Maharashtra. The inner transformation experienced by every individual who undertakes ‘vari’ needs to be experienced at least once in the lifetime. The entire ambience is filled with love and Bhakti. The crowd management is not a big issue. Everyone greets each other with the word ‘Mauli’, a beautiful way of acknowledging the God within each and every one. Everyone is a ‘mouli’ during the pilgrimage.
The pious land of Bharat is rich with the places of such pilgrimages and with the experiences of lakhs of people who undertake these pilgrimages. This world seems to be a different world. Why is it not part of our mainstream education? Why do we not tell our youngsters to look at it in the right perspective?