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Updated at 0600 on July 21, 2010

Ashadi is the day, when lakhs and lakhs of Varkaris from all parts of the country, especially from the state of Maharashtra, throng the spiritual capital of the state, Pandarpur, to have darshan and blessings of their chosen deity, Vittal Rakumai. When Ashadi dawns in Prasanthi Nilayam this morning, south of India, the seat of Supreme Lord in physical, hundreds of varkaris from the state of Maharashtra will be presenting themelves to their Lord, after completing a three day long symbolic 'varkari yathra' from Dharmavaram to Puttaparthi, finally to feast their eyes with the beauteous form of the Lord of Parthi, Lord Sai Vitthala. Dwelling on the significance of the day and the legacy of 'Varkari Sampradaya', Ms. Julie Chaudhury pens her expressions in a poem entitled, THE LORD AWAITS THE PILGRIMS' MARCH...

Oh, the Lord awaits impatiently,
For Ekadashi,
In the month of Ashad,
When even the cynics and agnostics are taken off guard,
Seeing the pilgrims march on,
Doubt disappears, faith is reborn…

Twenty one days before Ashadi Ekadashi,
With immense fervour does commence this Palkhi,
From the town of Dehu near Pune city,
To keep alive the dear memory,
Of Sant Tukaram, the great saint and spiritual bard,
Whose sweet devotion the Lord did award,
When the time had come for him to depart,
After he had done with playing his part,
The Lord’s  Garuda Vahana did descend,
On the banks of Indrayani for Tuka to ascend,
Leaving no trace of his human body, he was set free,
His soul flew on the wings of his supreme bhakti…

He sang in a language understood by all,
In every cell of his being the Lord he did install,
He sang of love for fellow beings,
Beyond religious orthodoxies,
Community service,
And musical worship in a group,
In the tradition of Varkaris… 

More than 4500 devotional poems or abhangs,
Sant Tukaram composed and sung,
This humble saint of Maharashtra,
Lived in the 17th century,
But his legacy lives on - an inspiration to so many,
His compositions are found in the Guru Granth Sahib too,
In the end his soulful bhakti received it’s due…

Panduranga, Panduranga,
They charm their beloved Vitthala,
The One who has the complexion of a rain cloud,
To Him this wari have they vowed…

Adorning the neck of Rukmini, fondly referred to as Rakhumai,
Is a mangalsutra materialized by Beloved Sai,
During a divine visit on 13th June 1965,
With this act pages from Srimad Bhagavatam came alive…

So the Varkaris sing, dance and chant,
In dry hearts devotion they do plant,
As they make their way from Dehu to Pandharpur,
To the temple dedicated to Rakumai and Vitthala,
On the banks of the holy Chandrabhaga… 

235 kms these pilgrims do tour,
A waari or pilgrimage,
To have a glimpse of the Lord, His glorious image,
More than 3 lakh Varkaris from Dehu and Alandi,
Walk and sing their Lord’s glory… 

And then there are pilgrims who reach Puttaparthi,
Walking from Dharmavaram to Prasanthi,
Trying to emulate the tradition of Tuka,
The son of Bolhoba,
And Kanakai,
Here they gather at the feet of Easwaramma’s Sai,
Pandharpur’s Vithala and Rakhumai,
Has incarnated in Parthi as Sathya Sai…

Let the drums sound and the cymbals ring out,
Let us sing His glories aloud,
Let us celebrate,
Our destiny commemorate,
Indeed are we fortunate,
For His love is boundless,
His grace immense,
His life is His message and ours should be too,
From Sathya, Dharma,
Shanti, Prema, Ahimsa,
And Samastha Lokah Sukhino Bhavantu,
We must follow suit without much ado…

Panduranga Vitthala,
Jai Panduranga Vitthala,
Govinda Ranga Vitthala,
Gopal Ranga Vithala,
Parthiesh Ranga Vitthala,
Prabhu Sai Ranga Vitthala…