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Coronavirus in Maharashtra: Dilemma over winter pilgrimage to Pandharpur continues

Coronavirus in Maharashtra: Maharashtra government last week reopened temples and all places of worship in the state.

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Hundreds of warkaris or devotees travel on foot across Maharashtra for 20 days to worship the deity at Vitthal temple in Pandharpur. (Express photo)

Maharashtra government has been urged by the warkari groups not to slap a ban on the Kartik Ekadashi pilgrimage to Pandharpur, a temple town in the state. Several warkari groups have been pressurizing the Maharashtra government to allow the pilgrimage scheduled to take place in the winter. The BJP Adhyatmik Samanvay Samiti has also asked the state government to give a go-ahead in the matter, according to the Indian Express report.

What is Kartik Ekadashi pilgrimage?

The pilgrimage takes place twice a year. Hundreds of warkaris or devotees travel on foot across Maharashtra for 20 days to worship the deity at Vitthal temple in Pandharpur. The first pilgrimage takes place during the season of monsoon and is called “Ashad Ekadashi”. The second pilgrimage takes place during the winter and is known as “Kartik Ekadashi”. This year Kartik Ekadashi pilgrimage commences on November 22.

What is the issue?

Maharashtra government last week reopened temples and all places of worship in the state. However, the state government has not announced its decision pertaining to the Kartik Ekadashi pilgrimage. BJP Adhyatmik Samanvay Samiti has proposed to Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray to allow the traditional pilgrimage following the Covid-19 norms, regulations, guidelines, and protocols.

The state government is meeting leaders of warkari groups to decide on the issue. Cabinet ministers are looking into the matter with some have opined that there should be restrictions on the number of devotees allowed for the pilgrimage.

Meanwhile, several Warkari leaders have met and adopted a resolution. The resolution has stated that the Ashadi Yatra to Pandharpur in July was canceled due to lack of preparedness of the state government. Back then all warkari groups agreed because the Coronavirus was at its peak, the resolution stated. However, the situation has changed and the state government has reopened all sectors and allowed normal activity. Hence, Samiti has urged the Maha Vikas Aghadi government to give its permission “Kartik Ekadashi” pilgrimage.

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