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As the sunlight faded and a slight chill set in the air on November 23, over 1,200 devotees gathered at Sadhu Vaswani Mission to participate in the rath yatra procession. In honour of Sadhu Vaswani's 133rd birthday, the rath was taken on a journey through the streets of the city from the premises of the Sadhu Vaswani Mission to the Sadhu Vaswani Chowk and carried on towards Poona Club, Quarter Gate, Pudumjee Compound, M G Road before returning back to sacred samadhi at Sadhu Vaswani Mission.
This is an annual pilgrim-procession since 1966 in Pune, providing an opportunity for the Puneites to pay homage to the saint. The rath or chariot is designed as a spaceship by the renowned automobile designer Dilip Chabbria. It represents the cyber age and space age and is designed to look like it is a vehicle that has descended from the heavens. Attention is given to the detailing of the rath, such as there is a mannequin driver in the cockpit that is shown to be driving the vehicle. A life-like statue of Sadhu Vaswani is mounted on the spaceship.
The procession was led by Rev. Dada J. P. Vaswani, who was sitting in the rath at the feet of the statue of Sadhu Vaswani.
Mahesh Pathak, Pune Municipal Commissioner came to pay homage by offering a garland to the statue of Sadhu Vaswani on the rath. The procession comprised groups of youngsters playing the drums and performing lejhim, and hordes of devotees singing bhajans and kirtan of Dada Shyam while they walked in unison. "To participate in this yatra is like a tradition that I follow year after year. The feeling of unitedly rejoicing the birth anniversary of the saint who teaches the doctrine of equality is something I would not miss for anything," says Ajay Punjabi, a 40 year old devotee who travels to Pune every year to attend the celebrations.
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