important ceremony concerning this shrine is held in the month of Margashirsha. On the
first day of this month the sandals or padukas of Vithoba are taken to this temple of
Vishnu pad and on the last day of the same month Vithoba's chariot is brought to this
temple in a huge procession. In the evening the padukas are brought back to the Vitthal
Temple with a grand torch-light procession, and are then lodged in the bed-chamber.
It is supposed that during this month Vitthal goes to the Vishnupad and like Krishna
feasts there with other cowherds. This also explains why numerous people bring picnick
parties at the temple and the surrounding rocks and hold vanabhojanas.
significance of this spot, as far as the kshetra goes, is that it is here that
shraddha' ceremonies are to be performed, The balls or pindas that stand for the
ancestors are set in the holy square, especially on the foot-prints and are worshipped
there. After the ceremony is over the balls are deposited in the river. A Varkari may or
may not perform the rite here, but for a casual visitor it is one of the 'must'. The
causewav is useless for many months and small ferries carry the pilgrim to the spot.
A pious visitor would find that he would be able to visit temples of all the deities,
of the, various avataras and aspects of Vishnu, Shiva and the devi. Most of these are from
the ei2hteenth century although some show traces of earlier architectural remains and many
are referred to in the literature of the pre-eighteenth century period.
No account of the Vitthal of Pandharpur could be complete without a sketch of the
Varkari panth and the great palanquin processions from various places in Maharashtra to
Pandharpur. The Varkaris and the Vitthal cannot be separated. To anybody who knows
something of the cultural history of the region, the mention of the name of the one
automatically reminds of the other. The Varkari is a picturesque figure.