Techie devises an app to bring people to an 800-year-old Maharashtrian tradition
The Pandhari Wari is a sight to watch. Come the month of July and close to five to seven lakh people from different parts of Maharashtra begin a pilgrimage on foot to the Vitobha temple on the banks of the Bhima River in Pandharpur, keeping an 800-year-old tradition alive.
Born in the lineage of the great Hindu revivalist, Tukaram Maharaj, Swapnil More grew up listening to Aabhangas in a religious and cultural environment. His father was the head of the Dindi Sohala; and for Swapnil, the Wari was a part of his daily life.
One day, during the preparations for the Wari in his village, Dehu, he was struck with a radical thought -- why not to bring people to the Wari by using technology? Being a technology enthusiast, and a social media consultant, Swapnil felt that technology and the use of digital media was the ‘best way’ to bring people closer to this tradition.
Creating the Virtual Dindi Project
The idea was to create the Virtual Dindi Project. Dindi refers to the group of people who walk the Palki procession. This could be done through Facebook, where one could track the progress of the procession. He even developed an application that has a GPS device tagged to the Palki, which enables them to track the geo-graphical location using Google Maps.
With the help of this app, one can track the Palki, and locate destinations of important events along the Wari, where people can come and pay a visit or pray. The procession passes from Dehugaon and Alandi, to Pandharpur.
Struggles of setting up
Swapnil had heard many people from different walks of life talking about the Wari and wanting to be a part of the same. After the idea took root, he started a Facebook page; and being a seasoned photographer, he began taking pictures of the procession. However, in the initial days, there was not much else he could do, all by himself. Soon, he started talking to others, and he was joined by Mangesh More, Akshay Joshi, Amit Kulkarni and Sujay Dighe.
The main struggle was in making people understand the tradition of the Wari. Many people living along the route of the procession observed the rituals and festivities of the Wari without knowing or understanding the tradition completely. Others had merely read about the pilgrimage, which the print media occasionally wrote about. But now, through the Virtual Dindi Project app people could learn about the real tradition behind numerous holy events in Wari.
The Sant Tukaram Maharaj Trust helped Swapnil understand the essence of the pilgrimage, and explained the traditional elements of the Wari in simple words. "Wari is not just about a journey of 250 kms, but is a great example of management, unity, and diversity of the tradition of India, and one should join this endless journey once in lifetime," says Swapnil.
How the Virtual Dindi works?
With the help and permission of the Sant Tukaram Maharaj Trust in Dehu, the team was able to install the GPS unit, and with the help of Intellinet Datasys the team was able to build the technology and the application.
This application also enables you to upload pictures, videos and updates. "Mobile has reached everywhere, and hence, to keep the culture alive, we are using technology. Last year, we could reach up to 50 lakh people organically through our Facebook page," adds Swapnil.
The application can be used to check the exact location of Palki on Google Maps. Detailed information regarding rest points, halts, Neera Snan, Dhava, Mendyanche Ringan, Shubhra Vastra Payghadya and other traditional activities, their information, location, pictures, videos, as well as the distance between the Palki locations and its next halt will all be shown in the near future. The app will be highly beneficial to the police, volunteers, the management of Wari procession, and the media as well.
Location friendly apps
With the growing popularity of geo-location tagging and apps, various apps like HereNow and wWhere, are entering the fray, making travel and route discovery easier. Today, in fact, geo-location apps are believed to the next big frontier in mobile technology. The ability to track a customer's or a business’ location along specific routes, helps immensely in data mining and analysis.