What to Do at the Shirdi Sai Baba Temple of Austin
This Temple was inaugurated on March 21, 2010.
Non-Hindus are welcome to visit the Temple when it is open. Please dress appropriately, meaning no shorts, t-shirts, revealing wear, etc. Please act with respect in the Temple, and if you have questions about the religion, please ask a priest or at the office.
Ganapati. Many devotees like to begin their visit by taking the darshan of Ganapati, who sits in a small building in front of the Sai Baba Temple.
Footwash. For those devotees who like to wash their feet and hands before entering the Temple, there is a footwash across the patio from the northeast entrance (left side as you face the front doors).
Sai Baba Temple. Come sit in front of Baba quietly for a few minutes, as it is said “God speaks in silence.” Aarati (group worship) takes about 20 minutes and is held at 7:30 am, 12:00 Noon, 6:30 pm, and 8:00 pm daily. (Thursday nights the last aarati is a little later). Aarati is sung in the Marathi language. For transliteration and transliteration, there are books in English and other languages in a bookcase on the North Wall. The Sai Baba idol is an exact replica of the idol in Shirdi, only ½ inch shorter, to pay respects to the Shirdi idol.
In the Sai Temple, devotees also worship the Dattatreya idol, as Sai Baba was considered an incarnation of Dattatreya, the three headed embodiment of Brahma – Vishnu – Mahesh. Small idols of the Navagrahas (nine planets) are at the back of the hall.
When aarati is not going on, visitors will often sponsor archana, where the priests recite the 108 names of Baba and offer fruit on behalf of the devotee and their family.
Copies of the Sai Satcharitra (story of Sri Shirdi Sai Baba’s life) and other gift items are available in the Temple office.
Thursday nights are generally the busiest nights at the Temple. Prasad is served through the kitchen window. Along with the regular aarati, devotees perform milk abhishekam over small Baba idols while Rudram is chanted. Bhajans are held from 7:30 pm – 8:00 pm (all welcome), and archana is held from 8:00 pm – 8:15 pm, with the devotees also chanting Baba’s name.
The Dhuni and Deepa Sala are outside the south door of the Temple. In Shirdi, Baba kept a continuous fire burning called the dhuni. In memory of this, the Temple has a continuous flame burning here. Above the dhuni is the famous “Dwarkamayi” picture. Devotees will circumbulate this picture nine times, silently repeating OM SRI DWARKAMAYI to get Baba’s blessings.
Surrounding the dhuni is the Deepa Sala, a place where devotees can light a deepam. Why do all religions use lights? It is believed that deepams create a window between the celestial regions (godly regions) and the earthly sphere.
The Homa Kunda is across from the Dhuni and Deepa Sala. This is where priests regularly perform Vedic yagnas. Mantras are recited and offerings are made to the sacred fire. Circumbulate the homa kuna three times to show respect to the devatas. Then worship the large Ganapati idol in the homa kunda. Some offer flowers, fruits, and namaskarams to Ganapati here, the Remover of Obstacles.
The Meditation Hall is directly behind the Main Sai Baba Temple. In this hall sits a small idol of Shirdi Sai Baba. It was the first idol used by the Temple, when the Temple was in the Railyard Shopping Mall in Cedar Park. Once, during laksha pushpa archana, a tear emerged from Baba’s eye on this idol. This is a good place for silent reflection, and for reading the Sai Satcharitra (story of Baba’s life). Various classes are also held in this room.
The playground area, much enjoyed by younger children, is next to the Meditation Hall.
The Kitchen is across the patio from the north door to the Sai Baba Temple. Devotees make Prasad here which is distributed free to devotees on Thursday night and on weekends. Prasad is often available at other times also. On Thursday nights and large events it is distributed through the kitchen window; other times it is “serve yourself” inside the kitchen. Devotees are asked not to take the free Prasad home to serve others. When they do this, Prasad runs out for visitors to the Temple. Please help keep the kitchen clean. Restrooms are across the hall from the kitchen. People often eat the Prasad in the picnic area in the covered patio area between the kitchen and the Sai Baba Temple.
The Kitchen also serves as a staging area to make lunches for the homeless in downtown Austin on Sunday mornings, called Sandwich Seva, (8:15 am – 9:15 am), and for accumulating food to be given to hungry school children in Leander ISD.
The Cultural Hall is next to the kitchen. This is a popular spot devotees rent for weddings, memorials, Bharatnatyam, Kuchipudi, Carnatic and Hindustani music, and other events. The Hall has a professional sound and lighting system.
The Shanti Pond is in the NE corner of the property, near the entrance. Children especially enjoy seeing the large koi fish swimming in this 20,000 gallon pond. It is considered auspicious to circumambulate the pond. It is a good place for quiet reflection, listening to the sound of the waterfall, and watching the Ganga fountain on the top of the Shiva idol’s head cascade over his body into the pond.
Major Festivals at the Sai Baba Temple are Guru Poornimah, which comes on the first full moon in July, and Baba’s Mahasamadhi Day, called Dassara or Vijaya Dasami, falling on the tenth day after the nine days of Mother Divine in the Fall. In the Spring and Fall, fund raising Food Melas are held in the Sai Temple courtyard, where devotees sell food and vendors are invited to rent a booth. January 1 is the busiest day of the year, as devotee’s all come to the Temple to perform archana and get the year’s blessing from God.