1. Small town – biggest pilgrimage destination.
Shirdi is a small town in the state of Maharashtra that is now the biggest spiritual center there is for devotees of Sai all around the world.
2. Second most visited after Tirupathi!
According to some sources, Shirdi is the second most visited pilgrimage destination after Tirupathi! The town has a population of around 36,000 and during holidays there are nearly half a million people in the small town.
3. Ultimate reason for its popularity!.
The main reason for Shirdi’s significance is the spiritual guru – Sai Baba!
He is a fakir, known for his simplicity and humbleness despite being a mortal of such great spiritual power!
4. Sai baba for all!
Baba, who first came to Shirdi when he was 16 as a nameless entity and stayed there till he breathed his last, has the most diverse group of devotees you will ever come across. People from different faiths, religions, castes and creed consider Baba as their guru even till today.
5. Story of the idol.
The statue, which has become such a famous and well-loved image of Baba, was not installed until 1954, and there is an intriguing story behind it. Some white marble arrived from Italy at the Bombay docks. Neither did anyone claim it nor did anyone know why it arrived. In the absence of a claimant, the dockyard auctioned it and the purchaser offered it to the Shirdi Sansthan (temple authorities).Impressed with the quality of the marble, the temple authorities assigned a job to a sculptor from Bombay- Balaji Vasant Talim, to make an idol of Baba. However, Talim had just one black-and-white photo of Baba to use as his model but struggled to get precision from just a picture.
One night Baba came to him in a dream, acknowledged his difficulties and then showed him his face from various angles, encouraging Talim to study it thoroughly and remember it well. This gave Talim exactly what he needed and after that the work flowed easily and the result exceeded all expectations – so much so that people from the families who knew Baba were shocked with the striking resemblance!
6. Sai baba – a part of history.
Baba is not a character from any mythological stories but is evidently a part of history!
He was born on September 28th 1835 and left his body on October 15th 1918.
7. The day Baba attained Samadhi.
The day Baba left his mortal identity, surprisingly happened to be Dusshera, Mohoram and Buddha Jayanti!
8. Shraddha and Saburi.
Saibaba emphasized on two virtues for wellbeing: faith or shraddha and patience or saburi. The two virtues are complementary. Each is both, the cause as well as the effect of the other and both are the means as well as the end of the other!
9. Dixit Wada Museum.
This museum is a treasure house of Baba’s belongings! One must pay a visit to this museum after the main darshan. The robes he wore, the utensils he cooked in with his bare hand, are also displayed!
10. The Dhuni.
The Dhuni at present.
Along with his teachings and principles, Baba also left behind something in Dwarakamayi (the mosque he lived in all his life in Shirdi). He built a fire or dhuni which is being maintained ever since till this date! The dhuni is one important thing that Sai devotees don’t miss!
Southie: Medha Muralidhar.