Ramnavami and Shri Sai Ram. Divine Greetings to all in IL Family for Ramnavami and Navrathri. To those devotees who wanted to worship Shri Ram, Baba gave darshan as Bhagwan Shri Ram. This happened to a lady in a Bhajan group from Madras which visited Shirdi in 1916 on the way to Kashi. (Sai Satcharita Ch: 29). Shri Ram Navami is one of the three main festivals at Shirdi. Baba Himself caused the celebration of Ram Navami Festival in a grand scale jointly by both Muslims and Hindus in Shirdi. Sai Devotees all over the world and at Shirdi celebrate Ram Navami today. The three main festivals in Shirdi are of three to four days each. They are Ramnavami (March/April), Gurupoornima (July) & Vijayadashami (September). These festivals are celebrated with great passion, devotion and joy. Lakhs of devotees flock to bathe in the grace of Baba. There are programmes of puja, music (bhajan) public parayan (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 Dwarkamai 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 Sai Baba Sansthan trust's office. Origin of Ramnavami Celebrations: In 1897, a devotee named Gopal Rao Gund proposed holding an Urus as in expression of his gratitude to Baba for having been blessed with a son after many childless years. Baba gave His permission for the celebration to be held on Ramnavami. The annual Urus was held regularly on Ramnavami every year. Amir Shakkar Dalal started Sandal Procession some time later. In 1911, these two processions were combined as single festival with two Flags to be brought to Dwarkamai. This was an ingenious touch of Baba. Urus is a Muslim festival honouring Muslim Saints. By holding the Urus, on the day of a Hindu festival, the two communities were brought closer together in a natural yet remarkable way. The photo showing Baba in this procession with all accompaniments and a horse is one of the few available original precious photos of Baba. 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. Krishna Rao 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 providential 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 ‘Sunthavada’ (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 supplied 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 from the ‘Nimber’ and placed it round His neck and sent another for Bhishma. Then the Kirtan commenced. That day’s programme including Mahapuja and Arthi 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 beehive 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 have 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, Gopal Rao Gund prevailed upon one of his friends to supply a flag for the procession. This was Damu Anna Rasne of Ahmednagar who had similarly been blessed by Sai Baba with sons 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. This year Ramnavami is being celebrated at Shirdi for 3 days as below: From 12/04/2019 to 14/04/2019. His message is God is one for all. Ram Navami is the festival he chooses to tell. Humble Salutation to Sainath, who is the form of Om. May Sai Ram shower His blessings on all of us on this Ram Navami.