The word Chavadi means meeting place of the villagers. Every village in Maharashtra has a Chavadi. The men gather together in the evening to chat wherein they discuss about their crops, their cattle and solve any problem that the village might have. There are two Chavadis in Shirdi; one is south facing where Baba slept on alternate days. Due to a violent storm the devotees forced Baba to sleep there, as the masjid would not withstand the storm’s fury. Baba refused, but perceiving the love and concern of his devotees, he finally agreed. Hence, he stuck to his routine so every alternate day he slept in this Chavadi.
In Shirdi, as in any small village the villagers brought their problems to Baba. It was here that Baba took decisions on true and false statements and acted on the Paap (sinful acts) and Punya (good or righteous deeds). The devotees for their well-being and welfare, made him to go to the Chavadi. Baba did this leaving his tranquil Samadhi state of the Dwaraka Mai. Chavadi is the place for introspection; a court where we have to judge for ourselves and take decisions on what needs to be corrected.
On entering this south facing Chavadi, one can see a plaque on which is inscribed “Shri Sai Nath Babanchi Lakshmi Bai Damodar Babre, Chinchanikar Chavadi, Saka 1859″.Damodar Babre came from the village Chinchani in Thane district. Hence, every one called him Anna Chinchanikar. He and his wife came and lived in Shirdi, and were devoted to Baba. For many years they did nishkama seva (selfless service) not expecting or asking for any favours from Baba. One day Shyama asked Baba why He had not blessed this couple with a son while other devotee’s were blessed and their wishes were fulfilled. Baba smiled and said “Has it ever happened, that whenever anybody has asked me for any thing, that I have not granted it”? Baba being Antaryami saw that the son would only continue the name of Anna for one generation. While Baba wanted Anna’s name to last for a very very long time.
A civil suit regarding his fields was then in progress at Dahanu. Anna time and again asked Baba about the outcome. Baba always replied “Allah Bhala Karega”. A famous lawyer, Achyut Narayan Khare, was handling his case. Once someone maliciously wrote to Anna saying that he had lost the case. Anna ran to Kaka Saheb Dixit and informed him; so, both of them came to Baba at Dwarakamai. As they were entering the Dwarakamai, Baba shouted “This old man has no faith in Me, throw away that letter”.
Later the lawyer informed him that he had won the case and Rs. 1,800/- along with the court costs was awarded to him. Anna and Kaka Saheb Dixit then went to Baba with the letter in hand. Baba calmly said “Have you got faith in Me now?” Anna placed the letter at Baba’s feet and said “Baba this is all yours, I do not want it”. Baba refused to accept the money saying that He was a Fakir. Anna begged Baba to accept it. This conversation went on for some time. Ultimately Kaka Saheb Dixit suggested that the sum could be used to repair the Chavadi, and it should be named after Anna and his wife Lakshmi Bai.
In the 1920’s, the Chavadi was a building with three steps leading to it. It had three doors facing south. Then two verandahs were added on either side of the steps. The verandahs are about 13’ long and 8’ wide. In the 1970s, the grills were added. On the Chavadi procession the day’s Arati was performed to Baba, and then Baba was given the chillim to smoke. Now a photograph of Baba is placed on a silver throne (simhasan) and Arati, performed to it. The paintings of the leelas and stories of various Gods and Goddesses were there from Baba’s time.
In the 1920’s, a glass box was placed in front of the photograph with Baba’s padukas in them. This box was there till the 1970’s. In the 1970’s, there were two pairs of padukas kept open for darshan. Then the padukas were kept in the show room of the Samadhi Mandir. After the museum was opened the padukas were kept there. After Baba’s Samadhi, the Chavadi procession is being held by the Sansthan on every Thursday’s and on festival days.
On 9th December 2008, it was the dawn of the 100th year of congregational Arati and palanquin procession. The Shirdi Sai Baba Sansthan had a grand celebration. After Baba’s mangal snan at 6:45 a.m. there was a grand procession, the silver padukas were brought from the Samadhi Mandir to the Chavadi. There Aarati was performed, this was followed by reading of the 37th Chapter of Shri Sai Satcharitra. This chapter has the title “The description of the Chavadi Ceremony”. The villagers along with numerous devotees did “samoohika pathana” (collective reading) of Das Ganu’s Stavana Manjari. Then there was Maha Prasad given by the Sansthan.