What is the Palkhi festival?

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What is the Palkhi festival? Blog Image


Delegates from several countries, who are in the city for the G20 Digital Economy Working Group Conference, got a glimpse of the 800-year-old Warkari community’s palkhi festival.

About Palkhi festival:

  • Palkhi is a 1000 — year old tradition which was started by some saints of Maharashtra (India) and is still continued by their followers called varkaris (people who follow a vari, a fundamental ritual).
  • It is an annual pilgrimage (yatra) to Pandharpur - the seat of the Hindu god Vithoba in Maharashtra, in honour of the deity.
  • Journey:
    • They walk with palkhis (chariots) carrying paduka (sandals) of various saints - most notably Dnyaneshwar and Tukaram.
    • Dnyaneshwar's palakhi leaves from Alandi, while Tukaram's begins at Dehu, both in Pune district of Maharashtra.
    • The Palkhi starts in the month of Jyeshth (June), and the whole process lasts a total of 22 days. 
    • Every year on the eleventh day of the first half of the month of Ashadh, the Palkhi reaches Pandharpur. 
    • Upon reaching Pandharpur on Ashadi Ekadashi, these devotees take a holy dip in the sacred Chandrabhaga River/Bhima River before proceeding to visit the Vitthal temple.
  • History:
    • Every saint, right from Sant Dnyaneshwar to Sant Tukaram, was following the Vari tradition.
    • In the year 1685, Narayan Baba, the youngest son of Tukaram was a man of innovative spirit and decided to bring about a change in the dindi-wari tradition by introducing the Palkhi, which is a sign of social respect. 
    • He put the silver padukas (footsteps) of Tukaram in the Palkhi and proceeded with his dindi to Alandi where he put the padukas of Dnyaneshwar in the same Palkhi.
    • This tradition of twin Palkhis went on every year, but in 1830 there were some disputes in the family of Tukaram, concerned with rights and privileges.
    • Following this, some thoughtful persons decided to break-up the tradition of twin Palkhis and organise here after, two separate Palkhis Tukaram Palkhi from Dehu (Pune) and the Dnyaneshwar Palkhi from Alandi (Pune).
    • From that time till date, both the Palkhis meet in Pune for a brief halt and then diverge at Hadapsar to meet again at Wakhri, a village nearby to Pandharpur.

Who are Varkaris?

  • They are a Hindu religious sect that workship Vithoba (or Vitthal), an incarnation of Krishna.


Q1) Who are Varkaris?

Varkaris are a Hindu religious sect that worship Vithoba (or Vitthal), an incarnation of Krishna.

Source: G20 delegates get a view from pavilion