Best Time to Visit Shirdi
Ramnavami : March/April
Guru Purnima : July
Vijayadashmi (Sri Sai Punyatithi) : October
Shirdi is the holy abode of Shri Sai Baba and thousands of pilgrims throng the town each day from across India and beyond. You can visit the Shri Saibaba temple at anytime you wish, however Monsoons i.e., between June and August are the period considered to be the best time to be here. Reason being the weather, which is simply so pleasant and inviting. You don't need to bother about sweat and heat; with drizzling and cool breeze all around your mystical journey to Shirdi becomes heavenly. Winters are also quite a good time to visit Shirdi. Winters are not harsh in here and temperature can dip to 7 degree Celsius.
However, you can plan your trip or pilgrimage to Shirdi during one of the three major festivals that are celebrated here with great fervor and excitement. These three festivals are Ram Navami, Guru Purnima and Vijayadashamai. During these festivals thousands of devotees flock in here and the whole atmosphere of the Shirdi becomes vibrant with puja, bhajan (music), rath yatra (processions with palanquin) and many more events.
You can come to participate in Ramanavami at Shirdi, celebrated every year in March or April. It is also the time when Saibaba's urus is held. Urus is a muslim festival that is celebrated to honor a saint. This shows the kind of communal harmony that weaves people of different faiths at Shirdi. This year that is in 2007, Shirdi is celebrating the Ramnavami from 26th to 28th of March.
Gurupurnima or Full Moon is also a wonderful time to visit Shirdi. In 2007, Shirdi is celebrating Guru Purnima from 28th to 30th July. This is the time devotees all across the world converge in Shirdi to seek Saibaba's blessings. There is also Vyasa Puja that is held during Guru Purnima, in honor of Ved Vyasa who wrote the epic Mahabharata.
Vijayadashmi is a big festival in Shirdi, venerated as a holy day when Shri Saibaba left his mortal body for heavenly abode. The festival is celebrated as Shri Sai Punyathithi in Shirdi attracting great number of devotees from all over the world. This year the festival is celebrated from 20th to 23rd October.
You can choose any of the festive seasons to make a spiritual journey to Shirdi and of course any other time is equally fulfilling.
Having a Darshan or a look at Shri Saibaba, when in Shirdi is heavenly in itself. The sheer calmness and serenity that peeps through the white marble statue of this saint hypnotizes you and initiates you into a mystical and spiritual journey that imparts a new meaning to your existence.
With thousands of devotees that queue up to have a look at this heavenly visage, the timings for Darshan are fixed by the Sai temple authorities. You must get acquainted with this before you go for a darshan of Shri Sai Baba.
Samadhi Temple that houses the statue of Shri Saibaba opens for public Darshan at 5am, when the temple opens. You need to be there well before 4am since a long queue is already there for a moment's glance of Sai Baba. It is the time when "Utha utha Sakala Jana" a melodious prayer is played on audio cassette. Exactly at 5.15am Kakad arati begins as a request to Lord Sai to wake up and give His merciful glances to His devotees.
After the Kakad Aarati, the Samadhi and the Idol of Shri Sai is offered Mangal Snan (Holy bath) with milk, curd, honey, sugar, ghe and warm perfumed water. After this Baba is offered Shodashopachar pooja leading to aarti. From 7.10am you can have full darshan of Shri Saibaba and also make offerings such as flowers, garlands, coconut, sweets, etc. Saibaba darshan continues till 11.45am.
Between 12 and 12.30pm Mahadhyan aarti or Noon arati is performed. After this aarti, once again Sai darshan begins and devotees line to have a glance of Sai Baba. Darshan continues through Dhup aarti or Sunset aarti. The timings of Dhup aarti changes as per the orientation of Sun and thus it changes through different seasons.
After Dhup aarti, at around 10am Shej aarti is done, which is the preparation for Saibaba to retire for the day. The temple is closed by 10.20pm. You can have regal darshan of Saibaba's padukas or sacred footwear on Thursdays and on special days. During these times a majestic procession is held in all pomp and show with Saibaba's padukas kept along with his portrait is carried in a royal palanquin from Samadhi Mandir to DwarkaMai and Chawri.