Amidst a cacophony that echoed devotion and faith, the Palkhi for Sant Tukaram Maharaj and Sant Dnyaneshwar Maharaj finally reached its sacred destination- Pandharpur. Starting its journey from Alandi in the holy month of Jyeshtha (June), Palkhi or Dindi procession is one of the most anticipated events of the city that reflects traditional Maharashtrian culture.
This 22-day-old event saw the Warkaris (devotees and volunteers who conduct and participate) commence this event on the auspicious day of Ashadi Ekadashi, and chant, sing and dance their way to glory and eternal bliss to appease and worship the lord Vithoba in the olden colonies of Pune.
With the advent of technology, the city also saw seventh Facebook Dindi- a new-age virtual dindi that propagates social messages. This year’s dindi spread awareness about woman empowerment as opposed to last year’s water conservation.
However, this year, the Palkhi came with a difference. Warkaris went that extra mile to spread joy for the physically handicapped devotees. For the first time in history, Pune witnessed a one-of-a-kind ‘Apanganchi Dindi’ meaning ‘Dindi for the disabled’.
Brainchild of Deepak Dhoble, a 21-year-old partially blind orphan from Pargaon village of Ambegaon region, this dindi covered the Alandi-Pandharpur path for the Sant Dnyaneshwar Palkhi. Even in the past, Deepak had undertaken varied initiatives to promote the well-being of physically handicapped people in his village. This intriguing concept quickly garnered attention and on a short notice, Deepak received positive responses from nearly 50 enthusiastic physically handicapped individuals from the state.
“I regularly walk the annual Palakhi since my childhood. When I was very young, given my own condition, I had observed that there is no separate dindi for the physically and mentally challenged, either in the Sant Tukaram or Sant Dnyaneshwar Palkhi processions.” he says.
He also stated that when he would express the beauty of the event to his handicapped friends, he would notice their grief and longing to participate. That, somewhere, inspired him to carve out this plan.
The palanquin procession saw several disabled people enthusiastically participate in the event. Narayan Rao Wagh, a polio-affected man from Akurdi shares, “As soon as I came to know about the event on whatsapp, I was overjoyed. The word spread quickly and many of my disabled friends followed suit.”
Anandibai Viratkar from Daund got emotional while thanking Deepak for organising this event. “ I cannot thank him for starting this Wari. Not only the chants and devotion moved our disabled community, but it spread a sense of fraternity among us.
Social media was an instrumental tool in executing this plan, and consequently he received numerous calls from across the state. He received responses from Pune, Ahmednagar and Washim for the dindi on June 22, 2017. Overwhelmed by this response, he decided to expand the idea and further promote the plan.
The head priest and treasurer of the Alandi Sansthan said that this is for the first time, the divyang community is included in this holy procession. The devotees are optimistic that in future, ‘social dindis’ will certainly spread awareness about the prevalent issues, especially for the downtrodden and disabled class.
The essence of celebrating any festival is to inculcate a sense of spreading happiness and joy. That’s what a palkhi does. It gives a whole new meaning to divinity and strives to eradicate the ills of the society.
Image Source: Indian Express