Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray today performed the mahapuja (prayer ceremony) at the Vitthal-Rukmini temple on the occasion of ‘Ashadi Ekadashi’ today. Thackeray, who was accompanied by his wife Rashmi, drove the 360-km distance between Mumbai and Pandharpur in the state’s Solapur district in his personal car on Monday. Their son, Aditya, also a minister in the state government, accompanied the couple on the pilgrimage.
Ekadashi is the culmination of the wari or pilgrimage undertaken by devotees from across Maharashtra on foot to the temple town. The mahapuja took place around 2 am. It is a long-standing tradition for the state’s chief minister and his spouse to be present during the ceremony. A wakari couple, chosen every year to perform the ceremony with the chief minister, was also present. According to NDTV, Keshav and Indubai Kotle were chosen to perform the ceremony this year.
Thackeray said he had seen hundreds of thousands of warkaris during normal times, adding that it was like witnessing a sea of devotion in Pandharpur, NDTV reported. He said he hoped to see that picture once again and had prayed to Lord Vitthal to restore that sight by ending the crisis of Covid-19.
The Shiv Sena leader added that devotion and self-confidence were needed to reach Pandharpur on foot, adding that that self-confidence helped one overcome challenges. He also expressed his gratitude at being given the opportunity to perform the mahapuja.
Expressing his appreciation of the sanctum sanctorum of the temple, the Maharashtra chief minister said every pillar, stone, and idol at the temple expressed something. He suggested to Dattatray Bharne, the minister in the state government’s general administration department, that he should undertake a project to showcase the temple’s heritage. Thackeray also handed over a cheque of Rs 5 crore from the state government to the Pandharpur Municipal Council.