It may be a small, nondescript town for most part of the year but on Ashadhi Ekadashi and Pandharpur in Maharashtra transforms into a sea of people. These are pilgrims from not just all over Maharashtra but also from the neighboring states of Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka. The presiding deity of Pandharpur is Vitthal or Vithoba, an incarnation of Vishnu. Also Read - Rajasthan News: Shops, Parlours to Open in State, Govt Offices to Function in Full Strength From June 1
According to a legend, Vitthal visited the home of his devotee Pundalik. The story goes that at the time of his arrival Pundalik was serving his parents and refused to grant Vitthal audience. He threw a brink in the direction of his lord and asked him to stand on it till he competed his tasks. Vitthal, instead of being upset and cursing him, was impressed with Pundaliks devotion to his parents and at his request stayed on forever at Pandharpur. Also Read - Swara Bhasker Describes Struggle of Helping Migrant Workers: Have to Sift Through Filth in my Comments Section
And so, the image of Vitthal in the temple is one of him with his hands akimbo, standing on a brick, waiting for his devotee. The temple is the ultimate destination of the Pandharpur pilgrimage, which has been held without a break for over 700 years! Also Read - Unlock 1.0: Tarapith, Tirupati, Jagannath, Meenakshi Temples | What is Opening And From When?
Devotees of Vitthal primarily include people from the Warkari community who begin their journey to Pandharpur almost a fortnight before Ashadhi Ekadashi.
The pilgrimage includes a palkhi or a palanquin that carries wooden or silver padukas (or slippers). This part of the tradition goes back to 1685 when youngest son of the poet saint Tukaram introduced the practice of carrying his fathers footwear from Dehu (their hometown) to Pandharpur.
Today palkhis from all over the state make their way to Pandharpur, arriving in the pilgrimage town on the day of Ashadhi Ekadashi.
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