Palkhi 2014- The present greets the past


Imagine a tradition that began over 800 years ago. Well, the Sant Dnyaneshwar and Sant Tukaram pilgrimages are exactly that; a centuries old custom and a fine example of our unique culture.

This religious procession is better known as the Dehu-Alandi-Pandharpur payi yatra because the pilgrims make their journey on foot from either Alandi or Dehu village with the palkhis of Sant Dnyaneshwar and Sant Tukarm respectively. Their common destination is Pandharpur.

The pilgrims, called warkaris, make this barefooted journey of approx. 450kms with an enthusiasm that only true devotion can inspire.

A sea of devotees passed through Pune this year, some first-timers, many regulars, city dwellers, and village folk, young & old. As is customary, the halt in Pune was 3 days long, and this time around the municipal corporation, NGOs, and the private sector came together to service them.

It was a heartening to see these people find support from all quarters. After all, the pilgrimage is a collective one and so it is only fitting that the effort to make the warkaris feel welcome was a collective one.

Pune’s Mayor Chanchala Kodre did not want to compromise in any way where safety, comfort and dignity of the pilgrims was concerned hence PMC collaborated with the best service providers. All the little things were taken care of so that the city could bring some relief to the otherwise demanding journey that the pilgrims embark on every year.

Their website clearly spells their mission SEVA..

S – Security

E – Environment

V – Vigilance

A – Administration

Needless to say that they’ve delivered on all of the above.

World-class 3s portable toilets were stationed throughout the procession route and were being serviced at regular intervals to keep them clean, hygienic and stench-free. The officials hired 300 of our environment friendly port-a-loos to meet the requirement. Basically, they took no half measures like installing cheaper, shoddy versions that leave a carbon footprint and cannot withstand heavy usage.

Then there were the other initiatives like the mobile apps, the earlier mentioned website where volunteers could sign up to provide assistance, water arrangement, mobile and stationary medical aid units, CCTVs.

At the chief pilgrimage Pandharpur, 500 3s mobile toilets made of recyclable material have been assembled so that the conclusion of the pilgrimage is in the same spirit as its starting point.

To use a hackneyed phrase; where there’s a will there’s a way. And the Pune-Pandharpur Palkhi has shown us that large groups of people can gather together peacefully if things are planned and executed well.

Fantastic work all around; whether it is the PMC, NGOs, volunteers or social impact companies. This is what happens when purpose, policies, budgeting, technology, and execution are aligned to serve the public.

This is the way forward for India- where new initiatives & technology nurture old traditions so as to pass them on to our future generations!