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Chavadi Utsav in Shirdi

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Any devotee going to Shirdi will first have darshan in Samadhi Mandir and then after devotees’
step automatically proceeds to Dwarkamai and Chavadi. These two places give us feeling of Sai
Baba’s presence even today.
Actually, Chavadi means a place for discussion to give justice, but this Chavadi of Shirdi
became a place of residence of God Incarnation – Shirdi Sai Baba. Late Shri Nimbalkar has thrown
some light on the reason why Baba started to sleep in Dwarkamai and Chavadi on every alternate
day in his explainatory book of Shri Saitcharitra originally written by Hemadpant (Govindrao
Dabholkar) in Marathi Language.
“Once due to heavy rain Dwarkamai was flooded with water and there was no dry space
for Baba to sleep. So devotees took Baba to Chavadi which is situated nearby and Baba was
taken back to Dwarkamai. Since then Baba started sleeping in Dwarkamai and Chavadi
every alternate day.”
Seeing this daily routine of Baba, from December 10, 1909, devotees started a tradition of
taking a procession admist band and music from Dwarkamai to Chavadi. People used to clean
lanes of Shirdi on the day on which Baba had to sleep in Chavadi. A mixture of cow dung, mud
and water was sprinkled to prepare a uniform platform to draw rangoli. Torches were ignited on
polls in lanes to enlighten Shirdi. Before chariot procession, devotees sang bhajans in
Dwarkamai. Then Tatya Kote Patil would come to Dwarkamai and requested Baba to proceed to
Chavadi. Without Tatya Baba would not stand up to go.
Baba wore His regular Kafni on His body, had Sakta under His arm and carring some tobacco
and His pipe and placing a small piece of cloth on His shoulder, Baba started for Chavadi. Tatya
Kote Patil placed a embroidered Shela on Baba’s shoulder. After that Baba Himself put some
sticks in Dhuni to keep it burning the whole night and then Baba extinguished the lamp near
Dhuni. With various sorts of music Baba started for Chavadi with His devotees. Devotees sang
bhajans with melodious voice. The procession started with loud cries of “Sai Nath Maharaj Ki
Jai” – “Victory Be Unto Sai”
Tatya Patil was on Baba’s one side and Mhalasapati on the other. Villagers of Shirdi and guests
of Shirdi participated in this procession. Procession was led by devotees who played sorts of
music instruments followed by Bhajan Mandali. Fully adorned Baba’s horse Shyamkarna was
placed in third position and beautifully decorated Palanquin (Palkhi) followed it. When
procession reached near Maruti Mandir, Baba used to halt there for some time.
Baba used to look at Hanuman ji’s idol and gestured something with His hands by moving them
in various directions. Baba only knows the meaning of these strange gestures! After the
procession reach Chavadi, Shej Arti was sung. At the time of Artis of Sant Jnaneshwar and Sant
Tukaram, Sai Maa, Godly incarnation who came to this earth for welfare of this mankind, bowed
Her head in praise. After arti was over, devotees returned to their homes. Baba slept in a room in
Chavadi. A bhajan mandali used to accompany Baba in Chavadi. In the morning devotees would
come and take Baba again to Dwarkamai. This was followed till Baba’s Samadhi.
In the year 1937, Baba’s devotee Shri Anna Saheb Chinchanikar gave donation for repairs
of this Chavadi.
Shirdi Sai Baba Sansthan has maintained this course of Chavadi Procession till today.
Every thursday Palkhi Procession starts from Samadhi Mandir to Dwarkamai and from
Dwarkamai it proceeds to Chavadi. Apart from thursdays, Sansthan organises Palkhi.
Procession on the first day of celebration of Ramnavami, Gurupoornima, Dashera
(Punyatithi) and also on Mahashivratri and eleventh day of full moon phase of Ashadh
month as per Hindu calender (July-August month as per English calendar).
Thousands of devotees – local and from all over the world participate in this incredible
procession and make their souls satisfied with cries of Baba’s name with deep devotion. The path
on which procession passes is dawned with mixture of cow dung, mud and water with beautiful
rangolis drawn. Few fortunate married women perform arti of Palkhi. Many famous music bands
participate in this procession to make the atmosphere submerged in music, which is another form
of devotion.
This year i.e. on December 10, 2009, the tradition of Chavadi procession will be completing
100 years. In this context golden moments of this procession will be celebrated by Shirdi
Sansthan. These golden moments were started by taking Baba’s potrait and padukas on
December 10, 2008.
On this day, in the morning Baba’s portait and padukas were taken to Chavadi in a procession to
Chavadi. Chairman of Shirdi Sai Baba Sansthan, Shri Jayant Sasane, Dr. Eknath Gondkar and
Shri Suresh Vabable carried Baba’s protrait and Shri Ashok Khambekar and Shri Krishnachandra
Pandey carried padukas in the procession to Chavadi. Shri Jayant Sasane and Shri. Rajshri Sasani
participated in portrait and paduka pooja which was followed by Abhishek pooja.
Chavadi was decorated by colourful flowers which were provided by Shri Vijay Kote and
colourful lights were provided by Dwarkamai Mandal of Bombay. Mass reading of Shri Sai Nath
Stavan Manjari and Chapter 37 of Shri Sai Satcharitra was done.
To give more importance to this tradition and to honour the devotees (volunteers) who play
musical instruments on every Thursday in Chavadi procession, Shri Jayant Sasane and
Shri Rajshri Sasane honoured them with Shawl, Coconut and a pair of clothes. On this
occasion Shri Kishore More and all the villagers of Shirdi were present in big number. In the
context of completion of 100 years, various programmes will be undertaken by Shirdi Sansthan
throughout the year. A camp of ‘Art of Living’ by Shri Ravishankar, Bhajan Sandhya and
Parayan of Shri Sai Satcharitra are the few plans of Shirdi Sansthan for this coming year.

Baba slept in Chavadi on alternate days. On such days he and Venkusa talked over several matters. The eastern side of Chavadi was set apart for Venkusa, as per his wish and none were permitted to sleep there. Ladies were not allowed to enter this portion but only the western side portion and after visiting Baba, they had to leave immediately. Thursdays were important to Baba’s devotees. Baba who gave much importance to the Guru tradition told them that Thursday(Guruvar) was very dear to him. Thus, the importance to Thursday started from then onwards. In the beginning Chavadi Utsav was celebrated once in two days. Afterwards, it was celebrated once a week on Thursdays. The Utsav attracted a large number of devotees who participated with joy and danced with full abandon. We shall now go into these details.

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