By Swami Harshananda
Vārakaris literally means ‘those who keep fixed times’.
Classification of Pilgrims
Paṇḍharāpura or Paṇḍharpur is a well-known and extremely popular place of pilgrimage in the Maharashtra State. The main deity of this place is Viṭṭhala or Viṭhobā or Pāṇḍuraṅga. It is a form of Lord Kṛṣṇa. The pilgrims who visit this temple are of two types:
- The vārakarīs or vārkarīs - They visit the temple regularly.
- Others - They visit the temple occasionally.
Classification of Vārakarīs
The vārakarīs are of two categories:
- Those who attend every month and those who visit twice a year on Āṣāḍha-śukla-ekādaśī
- Those who attend on Kārttika-śukla- ekādaśī
Rules of Vārakarīs
The vārakarīs have to observe certain rules which are binding. They are:
- Carrying a rosary of tulasī beads
- Giving up flesh-eating
- Observing a fast on ekādaśī days
- Carrying a flag of ochre-colored cloth
- To speak the truth
- Never cheat
These rules and the tradition of the sect have socially leveled the adherents to a great extent. Incidentally, it may be mentioned that a similar group of devotees of Rāma belonging to the sect of Samartha Rāmadās, came to be known as dhārakarīs.
- It is the eleventh day of the bright fortnight of the month of Āsādha, usually in July.
- It is the eleventh day of the bright fortnight of the month of Kārttika, generally in November.
- It means tulasīmālā.
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore