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Ashada Ekadasi-Padma Ekadasi-Shayana Ekadasi-Pandharpur Yatra


July 21st is the day of Ashadha Shukla Ekadasi. It is the eleventh among the ekadasis occuring every year and is one of the most auspicious Ekadashis . It is known by many names.

1.Deva Shayana Ekadasi

2.Padma Ekadasi

3.Maha Ekadasi

4.Toli Ekadasi ( Maharashtra)

5.Jagannatha Maha Ekadasi.

Please refer to the Nirjala Ekadasi post on this site for the discussion on benefits of fasting and effect on the psyche.

Today is also the day of the beginning of the Chaturmasya vrata .Chaturmasya is primarily a vrata for the Asectics and sanyasis .As the name suggests this is a period of four months starting with Ashada masa in Dakshinayana when Lord Vishnu sleeps in Vaikuntha . The metaphysical meaning of this is this is the time of the monsoons in India and almost all the major festivals of Hinduism occur during this period starting with Ganesh chaturthi and ending with Deepavali.Since it is the time of monsoons and planting of corps there is usually a lot of movement of tiny insects and various animals during this time. Hence the Sanyasi was advised to take up a Vrata of staying at the same place for four months to avoid killing the tiny insects that moved about during this time and incurring negative karma.Also the monsoon season brought a fresh lease of life to all life forms and the festivals were timed to coincide with this period.

The Sanyasi specifically has to take these 4 vows during Chaturmasa.With time the observance of the Vrata spread to householders as well.

1.Eating only once in a day

2.Not eating anything after sunset.

3.Eating only what one is given and never asking for more.

4.Consuming only milk and fruits for four months.

Apart from this the normal rules of Sanyasa apply with sleeping on the bare floor and brahmacharya.

Today is also the final day of the Pandharpur Yatra which began on 3rd of July . The singing devotees of Mahrashtra are called Varkari’s and every year in the month of Ashada the yatra begins from the Great Saint Tukaram’s temple in dehu .

One of the most famous pilgrimages in Maharashtra, Pandharpur Ashadhi Ekadashi Wari has been taking place for more than 700 years. The procession was started in the current form by Sant Tukaram’s son Narayanmaharaj in 1685. But it is believed that the first pilgrimage was done by the parents of Saint Dnyaneshwar in the 13th century and Sant Dnyaneshwar during his time popularized it.

The main Pandharpur Yatra starts from the Sant Tukaram Temple at Dehu. The warkaris or pilgrims follow the Tukaram Maharaj Palkhi procession. This main procession is joined by other palkhis from other towns and villages like the famous Sant Dnyaneshwar palkhi from Alandi.

The Patron god of the Varkari sect is Lord Vithoba ( Vithoba has two meanings one as the Lord of Knowledge in Marathi and also as the Lord who stood on a brick ) . The great devotee Panduranga’s story is the story of Lord Vithoba who stood on a brick for the sake of his devotee. Every year easily 5 lakh people attend this great religious yatra with a lot of devotion.

Main ghat Pandharpur-Backdrop Temple

Pandharpur Vithala Temple

Lord Vithala with Rukmini Devi

Varkari's -Vithala Vithala the sea of humanity chants

5 lakhs easily they cross-Many are the simple and devout Villagers

Power of Devotion-refer to link above.

“Like Sitaram Koli of Tuljapur, who is on the wrong side of 80, and yet, amazingly, on his first wari. Undaunted by the arduous path and his age, Koli says, “I can make it to Pandharpur with the blessings of Vithoba,” he says.

Asruba Vithoba Rode (70), a blind farmer from Nagarjawla in Parbhani district, who is on his 40th wari, echoes similar confidence.

At the other end of the age spectrum is 11-year-old Akshay Gade from Khed. The fifth standard student is already on his third wari.

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