One Mr. Gopalrao Gund, was a surveyor in survey dept. at Kopergaon. He was a great devotee of Baba. He had three wives but had no issue. With Sai Baba’s blessings, a son was born to him. In the joy that he felt due to this, an idea of celebrating fair on ‘Urus’ occurred to him in the year 1897, 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, and obtained Sai Baba’s permission and blessings for it. Then an application was made to get the Collector’s sanction for celebration the Urus, but as the villageKulkarni held against holding the fair the sanction was refused. But as Sai Baba had blessed it, they tried again and ultimately succeeded in getting the Collector’s sanction. 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 Mohammadens. As future events showed, this end or object was duly achieved.
Gopalrao Gund had a friend by name Damu Anna Kesar of Ahmednagar. He also was similarly unhappy in the matter of progeny, though he had two wives. He too was blessed by Sai Baba with sons and Mr. Gund prevailed upon his friend to prepare and supply one flag for the procession of the fair. He also succeeded in inducing Mr. Nanasaheb Nimonkar to supply another flag. Both these 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’, this is being done even now.
There was another procession which was started in this fair. The idea of ‘Sandal’ procession originated with one Mr. Amir Shakkar Dalal, a Mohammeden Bhakta from Korhla. This procession was held in honour of great Muslim Saints. i.e. Chandan Paste and scrapings are put in the 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. So, on the same day the two processions, the Flags, by the Hindus and ‘Sandal’ by the Muslim, went on side by side and are still going on without any problem.
This day was very dear and sacred to the devotees of Sai Baba.
Transformation of Urus into Ram Navami Festival.
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 Jogeshwar Bhishm (the author of ‘Sai Sagunopasana’) came for the fair with Dadasaheb Khaparde of Amaravati and was staying (on the previous day) in the Dixit Wada. While he was lying in the Verandah and while Mr. Laxmanrao alias Kaka Mahajani was going with Puja materials to the Masjid, a thought arose in his mind and he accosted the latter thus- there is some providential arrangement on 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 on this day here? Kaka Mahajani liked the idea, and it was arranged to get Baba’s permission in the matter. So they immediately went to the Masjid to get Baba’s permission. Baba who knew everything and aware 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. All rejoiced and made preparation for the Jayanti festival. Next day the Masjid was decorated with buntings etc. A cradle was supplied by Radhakrishnamai and placed in front of Baba’s seat and the proceedings started. Bhishm stood up for Kirtan and Mahajani began to play on the harmonium. Sai Baba sent a man to call Mahajani. He was hesitating to go, doubtful whether Baba would allow the festival to go on but when he went to Baba, the latter asked him so as to whats going on and why the cradle was placed there. He answered that the Ram Navami festival had commanced and the cradle was put out for that purpose. Then Baba took a garland from the ‘Nimbar’(niche) and placed it round his neck and sent another garland for Bhishm. Then the Kirtan commenced. When it came to a close, loud sounds of “Victory to Ram” went up and Gulal (colour-powder) was thrown up all round, amidst band and music everybody was overjoyed.
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.
SHRI SAI SATCHARITRA
By Shri. Nagesh Vasudev Gunaji