Every year lakhs of pilgrims walk for over 3 weeks to Pandharpur, driven solely by devotion and faith. A mass of humanity at one place at one time, however also offers a unique opportunity for the government as well as non-government organizations to get across social messages to the people at the grass roots, the ones who matter most for any long lasting social impact.
I was fortunate to be part of one such undertaking this year. Hariyali is an NGO that has been working actively in the field of eco-conservation for over a decade. Most of its work has been in the Thane area. However for the past 3 years it has been conducting a novel campaign of seed distribution amongst warkaris on the pilgrimage to Pandharpur.
The modus operandi of the campaign is quite simple. Mobilize school children in the city to collect seeds of various trees and to pack them into small brown paper packets, each packet carrying about a 100 seeds. Next, utilize the services of volunteers and school children in towns on the pilgrimage route, to spread awareness amongst the warkaris and to distribute the seed packets….
(Cont…Click the scanned article image on the left). Published as part of my column for the Maharashtra Herald that’s published on alternate Saturdays.