Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Tuesday performed the 'maha puja' of Lord Vitthal and Goddess Rukmini at a temple in Pandharpur town of Solapur district on the occasion of 'Ashadhi Ekadashi', and prayed to God for an end to the COVID-19 crisis and good health of everyone in the state.
As per the long-standing tradition, the chief minister performed the puja with his wife Rashmi Thackeray at 2.30 am.
Ekadashi marks the culmination of a pilgrimage called 'wari' that devotees (known as 'warkaris') undertake from across the state on foot to reach the Pandharpur temple town.
The 'Ashadi Ekadashi' is one of the most important Hindu festivals.
However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the state government has not allowed the pilgrimage on foot since last year.
The palkhis (palanquins) carrying 'padukas' (footwears) of saint-poets Dnyaneshwar and Tukaram left for Pandharpur in flower-decked buses from Pune district on Monday.
After performing the puja, Thackeray said, "Let there be a sea of devotion in Pandharpur and warkaris be allowed to perform 'wari' on foot again, and for that, I prayed to Lord Vitthal to eradicate COVID-19 and bless people in the state with good health."
His son and state minister Aaditya Thackeray was also present on the occasion.
Warkari couple Keshav Kolte and Indubai Kolte got the opportunity to perform the rituals alongside the Thackerays.
Every year, a warkari couple is chosen to perform the official puja with the chief minister.
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