was shocked to see Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis skipping the annual puja at the Lord Vitthal Temple in Pandharpur town due to some unknown protest threats by Marathas and instead, he performed rituals at his home in Mumbai. The CM of the state feels so threatened and skips such an auspicious opportunity, which means he never trusted the powers of Vithoba. What kind of Hinduism are these BJPians talking about? Why the CM of the state has to be scared of protestors? The Pandharpur Temple receives the highest number of pilgrims in Maharashtra every year. People come here walking from miles away — no security, no sanitation, no comfort, they just walk with one faith and that is Vithoba. The Pandharpur Temple is considered extremely ancient and sacred. It is praised in several Puranas and the famed Saint Sri Adi Shankaracharya even wrote the Pandurangashtakam Stotram praising God Vitthal whose other name is Panduranga in the 8th century. The deity Vitthala has been associated with several Gods in the past. He is worshiped as an avatar of Lord Shiva by strict Shaivites, as the Supreme Lord Vishnu by Vaishnavites, as the supreme avatar of Lord Krishna by his sect, as the avatar of Buddha by Buddhists and as a Jain God by the followers of Jainism. It is believed that Lord Vitthala and Rukmini signify non-attachment to materialistic desires. They symbolise a life of duty, forgiveness, and devotion. The Dindi Yatra is a unique feature of the Temple. Thousands of Varkaris, people who worship Lord Vitthal, religiously march from their homes in areas like Karnataka and Maharashtra to reach the Temple on foot. It is widely believed that a holy dip in the Chandrabhaga River washes away all your sins and blesses the devotees with prosperity.
In May 2014, the Pandharpur Temple became the first Temple in India to invite women and people from backward classes to assume the responsibilities of the Priests.
I, as a resident of Maharashtra, expected Fadnavis to perform the annual puja at Pandharpur, but our coward leader did it in his home and circulated the videos across the social media and the mainstream media. As part of a long-standing tradition, the sitting Chief Minister every year offers prayers at the temple dedicated to Lord Vitthal and Rukmini at Pandharpur on the occasion of ‘Ashadi Ekadashi’. The auspicious day of performing the puja is decided as per the lunar calendar and this year it fell on Monday. After the Chief Minister performs the puja, everyone else gets an entry into the temple and prayers continue for the next few months. Later, the Deputy Chief Minister or the second in rank in the state Cabinet on the occasion of ‘Kartik Ekadashi’ performs a similar puja. Some Maratha community leaders had threatened to disrupt Fadnavis’ visit to Pandharpur if their demands, including reservation in government jobs and education, are not accepted. In view of the protest threats, Fadnavis, who had been performing the puja at the temple for the last three year cancelled his visit this year. Meanwhile, in Pandharpur, a farmer couple from Hingoli district performed the traditional puja along with senior state Cabinet ministers and Solapur district guardian minister.
As per the Varkari tradition, “Vitthal” is composed of two words in Sanskrit – Vit meaning Brick and Thal that originated from the Sanskrit word “Sthala” meaning standing. That gives the meaning of “Standing on the brick” to the word “Vitthal”. Hence, the God is depicted as a figure of a young boy standing on a brick. There are, however, other interpretations of the meaning as well.
The idol of the deity Vitthala or Vithoba is made of black stone and is three and a half feet tall. The idol has a Shivalinga on his head and the Kaustubha Mani around the neck. The idol is placed in front of a Prabhaval, a silver plate in the sanctum.
Several smaller shrines dedicated to Lord Ganpati, Garuda, Lord Krishna’s consorts Rukmini, Sathyabhama and Radha, Kashi Vishwanath, Lord Rama and Lakshman, Kalabhairav, Dattatreya, and Narsoba are present inside the Pandharpur Temple Complex.
The Devendra Fadnavis government has courted controversies like AIB video ban, manhunt for a news magazine editor for publishing Charlie Hebdo cartoon which the Bombay HC had to stop and the Metro 3 which was going through the Aarey colony, open school grounds, forest area and slum areas that are not being given rehabilitation in the same area. The government had promised to abolish LBT tax but nothing has been done so far. Ban has been imposed on beef but import and export of beef is not illegal. Also, cow slaughter ban affects the leather industry other than the beef industry. Beef ban also affects animals kept in zoos as carnivorous animals depend on beef for food. No strong steps have been taken to catch the culprits of the irrigation scam. The government has also not taken any step to increase revenues or decrease debts in its latest budget or to tackle the increase in the rates of electricity and bus fares.
The government is also not taking any steps to cover up incidents like electricity robbery by the slums which leads to excuses of increasing prices, loan and relief money which goes to agri corporates instead of farmers, revenue foregone for sugar lobbies and SEZs that haven’t given much trade and the redundant sugar price that is causing lot of problems. Well, not much has been done and this government has one year left. People have elected this government to solve the problems, so it should not make any such excuses like Congress creating a mess. The traffic and bad road condition on Western Express Highway, JVLR, etc. and some parts of Eastern suburbs still remain an issue. Swachh Bharat Abhiyan cannot be successful when there’s a constant digging of roads and debris left after construction work is over. Cleaning a city is not just sweeping the road of leftover papers and plastics — it’s about smooth concrete, long lasting pothole-free roads and footpaths lined with trees! With so much discomfort, if some community or section of people threatens the CM, he prefers to stay in his cocoon. Let’s see what Vithoba has planned for his future.
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