Pandharpur Yatra
The Real Cost

Every year the Pandharpur yatra of Maharashtra generates an enormous pile of garbage, making people sick in dozens of villages. Pandharpur yatra, also known as Ashadhi Ekadasi Waari of Pandharpur, is a 21-day long procession which starts from the Sant Tukaram temple at Dehu and ends at Vitthala Rukmini temple at Pandharpur. A million people participate in the procession each year.

Every July the procession takes place and passes through dozens of villages these during 21 days. Walhe, the village of Rohini Powar, our correspondent is one of them. To welcome the procession and its participants, every village makes special arrangement such as free food, drinking water and building new toilettes. But once the procession leaves the village, it looks like a garbage dump as the participants litter the place irresponsibly.

According to Rohini, the gram panchayat/village council has a budget allocation for the procession. But all of it is spent on welcoming the procession. So, the whole burden of cleaning of the huge waste created by a million people comes on villagers. The rotting pile of garbage spreads diseases, forcing the poor villagers to spend on medicine.

As one of the victims and a community member, Rohini did this video to question the manner in which people forget their social responsibility and civic senses while celebrating a religious festival such as the Pandharpur yatra. While a lot of money is spent to promote the event and draw millions, nothing is done to check environmental pollution and affect on human health.

She expects that both the participants of the yatra and the govt will think and act more responsibly next time the yatra is passing through her village, as well as neighbouring villages.

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