Definition

The PANDHARPUR WARI (tour of duty) is an annual pilgrimage undertaken by VITTHAL BHAKTs (devotees of Lord Vitthal or Vishnu) subscribing to the teachings and tenets of the BHAGWAT DHARMA in Maharashtra. As part of long standing tradition, the Vitthal Bhakts (devotees) undertake what is known as the WARI (pilgrimage). The WARI is a procession accompanying the PALKHI (palanquin) carrying the PADUKAS (foot wear / replica of sandals of saints). During this long pilgrimage people collectively sing, dance, play, recite the praises of Lord Vitthal and reflect on the works of his regional devotee saints. The nearly two week long journey culminates on the eleventh day of the month of “Aashaadh” (June-July). Annually hundreds of thousands of WARKARIS (those undertaking the WARI) travel on foot to have a glimpse of Lord Vitthal by reaching the town of Pandharpur on the banks of river Chandrabhaga adopting the teachings of the saints. The WARI lends a supremely distinct identity to Maharashtra’s cultural horizon. Through the collective congregation of the VITTHAL BHAKTS are carried forward the teachings of the BHAGWAT DHARMA.

The saints have interspersed the WARI into the geographic conditions of the state (Maharashtra) making it convenient for the larger peasant population to take part in this pilgrimage after attending to their pre-monsoon farming operations. If in some year, the rains get delayed, the WARKARI catches up with the congregation later on at some other destination on the WARI route. The route that has been traversed by the WARKARIs and their saints has remained unchanged over many centuries. The WARI is undertaken with the purpose of walking along side the PADUKAs or walking the footprints of the saints as a mark of worship and respect for Lord Vitthal and his devotees (saints). The essence of the WARI and the BHAGAWAT DHARMA is equality and true love.

A devotee who performs the annual PANDHARPUR WARI (pilgrimage on foot) is called a WARKARI.