For Ruchika Khot, a FYBA student of Shivaji University in Kolhapur, the last two weeks have been most challenging. For the first time, Khot has walked for 170 kilometres and halt today at Pandharpur after she completes the final 40 kilometres. Khot is a part of the group of 235 students, representing all major universities in the state including Pune, Mumbai, Aurangabad, Solapur, Amravti, Nanded and Kolhapur, who have participated in the ‘wari’ for the first time.
Their journey started from the city on July 1 and had been on for the last 17 days. Out of 235 students, 135 are with Sant Dnyaneshwar Palkhi and 100 with Sant Tukaram Palkhi. Currently, all the students are in Velapur in Solapur district, and are expected to reach Pandharpur by evening.
Sharing his experience, Sagar Sale, an SYBA student of Shivaji University, said, “Wari is an event where we meet lakhs of pilgrims. So I think it is a unique opportunity to spread some awareness and contribute something towards society. ‘Save girl child’ is our theme and we’ve been performing street plays since day one of our participation. We have performed about 25 times till date.”
Another student of Shivaji University Vijay Salgar said managing such a big event annually was a mammoth task and they were assisting the organisers as ‘Police Mitra’ to help them. “ Waste management is another hectic task. After palkhi moves from a particular village, we stay back and clean the area. Collection of plastic waste is our priority,” he said.
Prof Rajkumar Rikame of Shivaji University, who has been with the students since day one of their journey, said, “All of them have successfully completed the long walk and that too by performing various activities during their journey. Since there has been rain, we also undertook a tree plantation in Dive ghat. Only two students fell ill due to weather change and were sent home. Apart from that we faced no issues.”
For the last eight year’s UoP’s welfare department have been looking after bed and breakfast of all students participating in the wari. “Until last year, students were only participating in Sant Dnyaneshwar Palkhi. But after receiving several request this year, about 100 students were allowed to be apart of Sant Tukaram Palkhi,” Director of Students’ Welfare Department Dr Pandit Shelke said.