SRI SAI BABA FESTIVALS - RAMNAVMI | GURUPURNIMA | VIJAYADASHMI
The three main festivals in shirdi are of three to four days each. They are Ramnavmi (March/April), Gurupornima (July) & Vijayadashmi (September). These festivals are celebrated with great passion, verve & heartfullness. Thousands flock to bathe in the grace which seems to flow especially freely at such time. There is a programme of puja, music(bhajan) public parayana(reading of scriptures & devotional texts) & exuberant processions with the palanquin & the Chariot. The Samadhi Mandir remains open all night during one of these days with Dwarakamai being open the previous night & there are all night bhajan & qawali sessions at various locations in the village. Printed programmes with full details are available at the Shri Saibaba Sansthan trust's office.
In 1897, Gopalrao Gund proposed holding in Urus as in expression of his gratitude to Baba for having been granted the birth of a son after many childless years. Baba gave HIS permission for the celebration and fixed the day for Ramnavami.
This was an ingenious touch of Baba's. Urus is a Muslim festival honoring a Muslim Saint( usually one who passed away); by holding the Urus, on the day of a Hindu festival, the two communities were brought closer tighter in a natural yet remarkable way.
Things were going on in this way and the fair was gradually increasing in importance till 1912. When a change took place. That year one devotee Mr. Krishnarao Jogeshwar Bhishm came to the fair, he was staying in Dixit Wada. A new thought arose in his mind and he costed a letter thus. There is some provindential arrangement in the fact that the Urus or fair is celebrated in Shirdi on the Ram Navami day. The Ram Navami day is very dear to all the Hindus then why not begin the Ram Navami festival the celebration of the birth of Shri Ram on this day here. Kaka Mahajani liked the idea and it was arranged to get Baba's permission in this matter. Bhishm solved the difficulty of Kirtan by saying that his Ram Akhyan, the composition on Rama's birth was ready and he would do the Kirtan himself while Kaka Mahajani should play on the harmonium. It was also arranged to get ' Sunthawada' (ginger powder mixed with sugar) as Prasad prepared by Radhakrishnamai. So they went to masjid to get Baba's permission Bhishma explained the idea of celebrating Ram Navami festival and asked for Baba's permission and Baba gladly gave it. All rejoiced and made preparations for the Jayanti festival. Next day the masjid was decorated. A cradle was supllied by Radhakrishnamai and placed in front of Baba's seat and the proceeding stated Bhishma stood up for Kirtan and Mahajani played on the Harmonium. Baba took a garland form the 'Nimber' and placed it round his neck and sent another for Bhishma. Then the Kirtan commenced. That day's programme including Mahapuja and Arti was Finished. Later on Mr. Mahajani asked Baba for permission to remove the cradle. Baba refused the same saying that the festival was not yet finished. Next day another Kirtan and Gopalkala ceremony was performed and then Baba allowed the cradle to be removed. While the Ram-Navami Festival was thus going on, the procession of the two flags by day and that of the sandal by night, went off with the usual pomp and show. From this time onwards the Urus of Baba was transformed into the Ram Navami Festival and began to grow gradually year by year, Radhakrishnamai started Naam-saptah. 'Shirdi' looked like a behive of men.
It is to be noted that both the Hindus and Mohammedans have been working together in both the procession during the entire festival and there has been no confrontations or quarrel between them at all so far.
In Shirdi, two locally historic rituals are carried out during this festival: the sack of wheat that is kept in Dwarkamai is changed and the old one taken to prasadalaya to be used there, and secondly, the dwarkamai flags are replaced. When Urus was first celebrated, Gopalrao Gund prevailed upon his friend to supply a flag for the procession. This was Damu Anna Rasne of Ahmednagar who had similarly been blessed by Sai Baba with Son's having come to Baba for this Purpose on the recommendation of Shama's father – in – law. In addition, Gund asked Nanasaheb Nimonkar to supply a second flag with embroidery. This was also done and both flags (described as "huge" by M. W. Pradhan, who saw them) were taken in procession through the village and fixed at the two corners of Dwarkamai. Descendants of these two devotees continue this tradition and flags are brought and offered at Baba's Samadhi before being taken on a grand procession.
Various religious activities are arranged Great number of people flock to Shirdi during this Festival.
Guru Pournima (" Pournima means full-moon") is the one which disciples and devotees honour and felicitate their guru and seek his or her special blessing. Although it is of great importance in Shirdi, perhaps because it is the only festival which Baba asked us to celebrate. The festival originated in the Buddha's time when the monks used to take diksha (instructions on their spiritual practice) at the beginning of the rainy season. The practice was then borrowed be the Jain tradition and later the Hindus.
Hindu's Puran says that programme respecting or worshiping 'Guru' on this day started at the time of 'Vyas' writer of Mahabharat Baba asserted the significance of this day indirectly.
Once, in 1908, Tatyasaheb Noolkar came to Shirdi and stayed in Chavadi. One day Baba told Madhavrao to tell him to worship that post (pillar). The post Baba showed was near the Dhuni and Baba used to lean on it. That was the day when he was glad to have chance to worship at least the post in Masjid.Then Madhavrao Deshpande went into the Masjid. Baba told him to worship the same post along with Noolkar. But Madhavrao refused and insead requested to allow him to worship Baba himself. At last Baba gave the permission. Dadasaheb Kelkar was unaware of this Puja. Tatya Kote Patil was called from the farm. People gathered the 'Puja' material. Dhoti was brought and people put on Dhoti to Baba, and worshiped him. Baba had no use of clothes but he gave permission in order to start the routine of Vyas puja. Thus this Puja was started at Baba's time and now has taken form of Festival lasting for three days.
Various religious activities are arranged. Great number of people flock to Shirdi during this Festival.
Vijayadashami in celebrated throughout India, under different names and with regional variations, as the victory of good over evil. For Sai devotees, it is venerated as the holy day that their beloved Gurudeva(Saibaba) attained mahasamadhi (also known as Punyatithi) and is a big festival in Shirdi.
Baba left his mortal coil on the 15th October 1918. Two years before i.e. in 1916 Baba gave an indication of his passing away. It was as follow. On the Vijayadashami (Dasara) Baba, all of a sudden got into wild rage in the evening, when people were returning from seemolanghan (Crossing the border of the village). Taking off His head-dress, Kafni and Langota etc. He tore them and threw them into the Dhuni before him. He stood there stark naked and with his burning red eyes shouted "You fellows now have a look and decide finally whether I am a Muslim or Hindu" Everybody was trembling with fear and nobody dared to approach Baba. After some time Bhagoji Shinde the leper devotee of Baba went Boldly near him and succeeded in tying a Langota round his waist and said," Baba what is all this? Today is 'Simolanghan i.e. Dasara' Baba striking the ground with his satka said," This is my Seemolanghan", Baba did not cool down till 11.00 P.M. and people doubted, whether the Chavadi procession would ever take place that night. After an hour Baba resumed His normal condition and dressing Himself as usual attended the Chavadi procession. By this incident Baba suggested that Dasara was the proper time for Him to cross the border of life.
Baba gave another indication as follow :- Ramchandra Patil became seriously ill. He tried all remedies, but finding no relief despaired of his life was awaiting for the last moment. Then one midnight Baba stood near his bed. Patil held His feet and said," I have lost all my hopes. Please tell me definitely when I shall die". Merciful Baba said," Don't be anxious, your Hundi (Death-warrant) has been withdrawn but I am afraid of Tatya Patil. He will pass away on Vijayadashami of 1918.
Ramachandra Dada soon left bed and soon was on his legs. Time passed quickly. The month of Bhadrappad of Shake 1840 (1918 A D) was ending and Tatya fell sick and was bed ridden Baba was also down with fever. Tatya had full faith in Baba. Tatya's illness grew from bad to worse and could not move at all but always remembered Baba. The day predicated i.e. Vijayadashami was impending and Ramchandra Dada and Bala Shimpi who was told the predication were terribly Frightened about Tatya. Tatya's end was near. But a curious thing happened, Tatya remained and Baba passed away instead. People said that Baba gave his life for Tatya and made Vijayadashami more significant for Sai devotees.
In Shirdi Vjayadashami is performed as usual. As well as with special programmes of Sai Punyatithi.
Various religious activities are arranged. Great number of people flock to Shirdi during this Festival. On Vijayadashami 'Brahman Bhojan' is arranged with Dakashina (Donation to Guru). Every year the number of the honoured couples of Brahman is increasing. On the last day of the festival "SGavjewan" ( free meal for all village People and devotees is given by Shri Saibaba Sansthan Trust,Shirdi.