This is another Wari story. Talked to the women who manage the kitchen of dindis - or groups of warkari.
For several years now, Pune has been playing a good host to the warkaris, offering food, water, medication etc. But, a dedicated or a true-blue warkari will not accept any assistance, decline it gently, chanting the name of 'Hari'. The reason is that every dindi has their own kitchen, a team of dedicated cooks, who do no charge a single penny for feeding 300 or more number of pilgrims.
We meet a group of women cooks at Alandi, who have travelled all the way from Kolhapur district to serve the warkaris of Vaskar dindi. Ranjana Patil, accompanied by her son, Nitin and his wife, and a group of six women, cook breakfast, lunch, evening, tea and dinner for the warkaris.
“We have been coming to Alandi for 25-30 years now. We get all the samaan – from utensils to rice, dal, masalas, pickles, salt, sugar etc on our own. We collect money amongst ourselves, sometimes someone from the village offers rice or sugar as daan. Only vegetables are bought en route if needed,” explains Ranjana Patil.
These members are not a part of the walking troupe and often set out in trucks or tempos before the other warkaris. “We reach the pit stops ahead of the warkaris, setting up tents, taking a bath and then setting down to cook. By the time warkaris halt for the night, the food is ready, to be served piping hot,” says Patil.
The breakfast consists of pohe, while the meals comprise chapati or bhakri, one vegetable, dal and rice. The team requires about 16 cylinders, which can be replaced en route, sanctioned to them by the government. Their tent has a generator set too.
The number of people dining during the wari is specific, so the food doesn't go waste nor does it fall short.
“The chopdar (supervisor or in-charge) has a list of names of people who are part of the dindi. So we know there are 10 people from Mumbai or 20 from Nashik and so on. Accordingly, we plan the meals. There's surplus food for ten people but not more,” explains Patil.
Her son, Nitin, adds that they consider this as seva to Vithu Mauli and his devotees. “We get to meet so many people, learn a few things from them,” he adds. When prodded about unsavoury experience, Nitin says, “This is one of the true and pious Bhakti movement. The soul of warkaris has not been corrupted. We do meet pervert minds, but even they do not indulge in too much mischief or cross the line. Have you heard of terror attacks or bomb explosions or threats to Wari? It's because wari means purity. There are many around us, who make money by selling odds and ends. But they are few and far between.” This is certainly food for thought.