City: Pune, Maharashtra
Location: Somwar Peth
Type of religious site: wayside shrine
Religious communities attending: mostly Hindus and followers of Meher Baba
No of communities attending: unknown
Languages used for ceremonies and prayers: Marathi and Hindi
Approximate size of the site: 20 m2
Year of construction: unknown
Pilgrimage location: No
Names and dates of the main festivals celebrated in situ: Gurupurnima, Meher Baba Samadhi’s anniversary day (31 January 1969), etc.
Overview of the site
This is a “wayside” shrine attached to the entrance to a house owned by a devotee of Meher Baba. The space is on private property, but it is visible to any passerby and diverse paraphernalia such as flags and posters with religious symbols from all major religions are on display (including a pair of sandals of Meher Baba are right at the entrance portico). The displays also showcase the teachings of Meher Baba including his famous saying “don’t worry, be happy.” Satsangs and other programs are held inside. The house has been named “Meher Darbār” or “Meher’s court”.
The shrine is indirectly connected to Hazrat Babajan’s Tomb shrine in Pune (which also attracts a number of devotees from several religious backgrounds), because Meher Baba at the age of 19, during his second year at Deccan College in Pune, met Hazrat Babajan, a Muslim woman saint who kissed him on the forehead. This made Meher Baba start his spiritual life.
Economy of the site
The house on a main street located in the busy neighbourhood of Somwar Peth, in old Pune near the police station. The house is privately owned and unlike many other street shrines of Pune, this one does not seem to be physically appropriating public space. A large number of pedestrians, as well as vehicles pass by. While not many of them stop or engage with the “shrine” in any significant way, some stop to look at the unique display. I could only observe an occasional salutation (pranam) by a handful of pedestrians, however, presumably devotees of Meher Baba attend the satsangs and other programs inside the house.
Bibliography pertaining to the site
Link (coming soon): https://ishare.hypotheses.org/category/sites/india/hazrat-babaa-jan-dargah
See Photos of the Meher Baba Shrine
Fieldwork conducted by Dr. Borayin Larios