Khandoba Mandir Shirdi
Khandoba Mandir holds the prominence because Baba had a halted here on his entry into Shirdi with the wedding party of Chand Bhai Patil and this is the place where Baba acquired his name as Sai Baba. Mhalsapati the priest, called out on seeing the fakir “Ya Sai!” which means “Welcome Sai”. The Sai means “Holy or Saint” and Baba means “Father”. In this way Mhalsapati is responsible for Baba’s name, which now became a mantra for the devotees.
In the olden days the temple is on the edge of the village in the centre of burial ground. The structure of the temple was very old and didn’t even have doors. The temple is 4.6 metres long and 4.6 metres breadth arranged with the Padukas at its base. The stone idol of Khandoba is situated at the centre of the temple. The idols of Sai Baba and Mhalsapati are in the temple. Daily 2 Aarthis – 12:00 PM noon and 6:00 PM evening are performed.
A rectangular sandpit is placed in front of the temple, used for fire-walking in the early days. Now this tradition had stopped. The annual festival of “Champa Shashti” celebrated for 6 days after new moon in the month of December devotees to show their respect and devotion walk on the hot coals along with doing Bhajans.
The history of the Champa Shasthi is that Lord Brahma granted a benison of immorality to demons Mal and Mani. As time passes the demons grew up and started killing people. Lord Shiva took the form of Khandoba and fought with the Demons. Wife of Lord Khandoba “Champa” prayed for her husband’s victory. The battle on the 6th day resulted in happiness. The demons were dead and in the happiness Champa gave a huge feast of Bhakhri – the dish made of Bajri millets, similar to roti and Bharit – The dish prepared by the roasted brinjal with curd and Indian Spices. So this event is celebrated as a tradition. Lord Khandoba defeat made him repent and walked bare-foot on the rectangular pit on which the burning coals were kept.
Mhalsapati is the devotee of Khandoba and the priest of the Khandoba Temple by ancestry. He is responsible for starting worship of Sai Baba. Sai Baba first thought of staying at the temple but Mhalsapati didn’t accept him to stay in the temple thinking Baba is a Muslim. Baba while leaving the temple said to Mhalsapati as “If you don’t wish that I should stay here, I’ll go away”. From then Baba made an old tumbledown mosque for his stay in shirdi and lived there till his last breath. The temple is famous not only for this but also Baba asked Upasani Maharaj , a stalwart and important devotee to stay at this temple for 4 years for his spiritual significant.