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Pandharpur Wari goes virtual; devotees offered chance to walk enroute online



Every year, hordes of devotees of Lord Vithoba and Rakhumai undertake an annual pilgrimage known as ‘Wari’ from Alandi and Dehu to Pandharpur.  The pilgrims cover a distance of 258 km on foot in about 21 days. There are usually four days of rest in between and they traverse unforgiving summer heat, and observe a spartan lifestyle throughout. They are carried along by religious fervour and sing abhangs along the route to make the pilgrimage less daunting and seemingly effortless.

YouTooCanRun, a Kalina-based sports management company, announced the launch of the virtual edition of this annual Wari. In these times of digital devotion necessitated by Covid-19, where our worlds moved online, the company is giving people an opportunity to be a virtual Warkari. “Not everyone can participate in such tough physical conditions, but may still want to maintain their faith. YouTooCanRun has taken the initiative of replicating the physical experience on a virtual mobile app. The app can be downloaded from Playstore on June 17. The participants in the virtual edition will walk the same distance on the same number of days, but from their familiar surroundings, wherever they reside. It has been estimated that the distance of 258 km equals 3,40,000 steps,” said a statement from YouTooCanRun.

Starting from June 20 and ending on July 10, the Ashadi Ekadashi day, participants are expected to finish the steps in 17 days  (with four rest days). This will follow the path and distance taken by the Warkaris through their on-ground pilgrimage.

Can adapt

YouTooCanRun director P Venkataraman said, “The tradition of the Wari pilgrimage is one of the biggest religious events of Maharashtra. The athletic performance of the average pilgrim, walking about 15-km daily, and that too with bare minimal comforts, is admirable. We thought that we must provide a technology adaptation of the Wari pilgrimage for those who cannot take part in person. We also hope that the virtual event ‘Walk with Wari’ will further propagate and amplify the devotion towards Lord Vithoba and Rakhumai, especially amongst youth. The motive is to promote walking in large numbers and to emphasize life’s moral behaviours. There is a mobile app which has to be downloaded which will give steps and closely follow the actual route to intensify the devotional experience.”

Ambassadors speak

Mumbai’s Kranti Salvi, a champion long-distance runner and one of the ambassadors for the event said, “I am a regular runner so my steps will be recorded on the app, as the virtual Wari walk begins. There have been several historical events and races that have moved on to the virtual space during the pandemic. There was a virtual ‘Dandi March’ too. This is a good way to be connected physically and spiritually. Of course, the side benefits are enhanced fitness!” laughed Salvi.

Kameshwari Kulkarni, event ambassador from Thane, will be doing the virtual Wari walk. She said, “This is a beautiful and unique concept where faith, fervour and fitness come together. Many of us want to do this pilgrimage but have been unable to because of busy schedules or other limitations. This will be a stirring, spiritual experience.”

You too can walk

>> Registrations for the event have started at Rs 101/- ($5 for foreign participants).
>> The National registration link: https://youtoocanrun.com/races/walk-with-wari/
>> The International registration link: https://youtoocanrun.com/races/walk-with-wari-international/
>> More details available at: https://walkwithwari.com/



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