Travelling with God: A Day in the Life of a Varkari

in Image Gallery
Published on: 28 September 2022

Kamesh Bharadwaj (photographs), Kartikay Khetarpal (curation and captions)

Kamesh Bharadwaj is a documentary photographer and film-maker based in Delhi and Bangalore. His interests lie primarily in stories related to environment, culture and their various intersections in Indian society. Through his photographs, he hopes to engage in conversations around climate change, action and justice, and document its immediate and indirect effects in the Global South. He is currently pursuing a masters in Documentary Photography from Sri Aurobindo Centre of Arts and Communication.

Kartikay is a writer, researcher, and digital media consultant. He currently works at Nayi Dhara, a digital platform dedicated to Hindi literature, where he produces the Nayi Dhara Samvaad, which is a series of online talks with contemporary Hindi writers. He also scripts and hosts a podcast on nature in Hindi poetry called Khule Aasmaan Mein Kavita. He completed the Young India Fellowship and a Masters in Liberal Studies at Ashoka University in 2017-19, where his topic of research was the Krishna poetry of Muslim Urdu poets. At Sahapedia, he was the Research Associate for the project, 'Mapping Bhakti and Sufi Traditions of India', in 2019-20.

The annual journey to Pandharpur is a core devotional practice of the Warkaris. The discomforts of life on the road, the strict discipline and fasting that some observe, the physical toil of walking, all fade before the joy and sense of deriving spiritual merit by participating in this spiritual carnival of sorts. Warkaris who are fit and able have to complete their journeys on foot. Many of them, especially the veenakaris (leaders of the dindi who carry a veena throughout the journey), have to match their movements with that of the palkhi. They wake before dawn so as to be ready to depart with the palkhi in the morning, and halt for rest only for limited periods until the palkhi reaches its stop for the night. 


Sahapedia is grateful to Bajaj Autos Pvt. Ltd. for the grant that made possible the documentation for this photo essay.