As described in Chapter VI of Shri Sai Satcharita, in the year 1897 the idea of celebrating a fair or Urus ( celebrated for Muslim Holy men ) occurred to one Mr.Gopalrao Gund, a great Hindu devotee of Sai Baba and he placed it for consideration before other Shirdi devotees, viz. Tatya Patil, Dada Kote Patil and Madhavrao Deshpande (Shama).They all approved of the idea, obtained Sai Baba`s permission and blessings for it. The day for the Urus was fixed on Ram Navami, after having consultation with Sai Baba. It seems He had some purpose behind this, viz. the unification of the two festivals, the Urus and the Ram Navami and the unification of the two communities – the Hindus and the Mohammedens. As future events showed, this end or object was duly achieved. During the fair two flags were taken in procession through the village and finally fixed at the two corners of the Masjid, which is called by Sai Baba as Dwarkamai. There was another procession in this fair known as Sandal procession originated by one Mr. Amir Shakkar Dalal, a Mohammeden bhakta. Sandal i.e. Chandan paste and scrappings are put in a Thali ( flat dishes ) with incense burning before them and carried in procession to the accompaniment of band and music through the village and then, after returning to the Masjid, the contents of the dishes are thrown on the Nimbar ( niche ) and walls of the Masjid by hand.
Things were going on this way and the fair was gradually increasing in importance till 1912, when a change took place. That year one devotee Mr. Krishnarao Jageshwar Bhishm (the author of Sai Sagunopasana) who came to attend Urus fair that year with Dadasaheb Khaparde and staying in the Dixit Wada suggested Mr. Laxmanrao alias Kaka Mahajani that “There is some providential arrangement in the fact that the Urus or fair is celebrated in Shirdi on Ram Navami; Ram Navami is very dear to all the Hindus; then why not begin the Ram Navami festival – the celebration of the birth of Shri Ram here on this day?” Kaka Mahajani liked the idea, and it was arranged to get Baba’s permission in this matter. So they immediately went to the Masjid to get Baba’s permission. Baba Who knew everything and aware of what was happening there, asked Mahajani, as to what was going on in the Wada. Being rather perturbed, Mahajani could not catch the purport of the question and remained silent. Then Baba asked Bhishm, what he had to say. He explained the idea of celebrating Ram Navami festival and asked for Baba’s permission and Baba gladly gave it. From this time onwards, the ‘Urus of Baba’ was transformed into the Ram Navami festival. Since 1912, this festival began to grow gradually year by year.
Ram Navami is still a major festival celebrated in Shirdi and in many Dham, Mandir and Ashrams of Shri Sai Baba throughout the world. This year Ram Navami is celebrated on April 12, 2011.
Om Sai Ram
Dr.Mahesh Chandra Panda
Shirdi Sai devotee