Palkhi, a unique feature of Maharashtrian culture, is a
1000-year-old tradition followed by the warkaris (people who follow the
wari, a fundamental ritual). People collectively go singing and dancing,
chanting Dnyanba-Tukaram in what are called as Dindis (organised group of
warkaris) to the holy town of Pandharpur in Hindu months of Ashadh
(June-July) and Karthik (November-December).
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. Every saint, right from Sant Dnyaneshwar to Sant Tukaram was following the wari 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 and the
Dnyaneshwar Palkhi from Alandi.
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.
Along with times, the popularity of this ancient tradition has soared immensely. A total of approximately 1.5 lakh devotees proceed along with the Sant Tukaram Palkhi from Dehu village, while a total of 2.25 lakh devotees march along with the Sant Dnyaneshwar Palkhi. At present a total of 43 Palkhis including the above two visit Pandharpur every year.