Devotees flock to Puttaparthi to pay last respect to Sathya Sai Baba

Last Updated: Monday, April 25, 2011 - 11:56

Puttaparthi: Lakhs of devotees from home
and abroad on Monday poured into this town to have a last glimpse
of Sathya Sai Baba whose body has been kept in a hall here
even as police tightened security for crowd control.

With grief written large on their faces, the devotees,
both young and old, made their way to the Sai Kulwant Hall at
Prashanti Nilayam Ashram to have a darshan of the 85-year-old
Sai Baba`s mortal remains.

Union ministers Vilasrao Deshmukh and Praful Patel and
cricket maestro Sachin Tendulkar along with wife Anjali were
among those who paid their last respects to the Sai Baba who
died yesterday after battling serious illness for nearly a
month.

The body will lie in state at the hall till tomorrow to
enable devotees pay their last respects. Sai Baba will be
buried at the Sai Kulwant Hall on Wednesday in line with the
practice adopted for spiritual leaders in India, contrary to
the Hindu custom of cremating bodies.

Police have set up barricades all over the town to
control the surge of devotees flocking the area.

DIG (Rayalaseema range) Charu Sinha said, "We have
put up the barricades for the convenience of devotees. We have
been told to ensure that devotees manage to have last darshan
of Sai Baba. Traffic restrictions have also been imposed for
the convenience of the devotees."

Anantpur District Collector Janardhan Reddy said food
and water have been made available to the devotees who have
arrived from near and far.

Foreign devotees also flocked the ashram to pay their
last respect to Baba. "I feel sad as Baba is no more with us.
However, he is in my heart and he is everywhere...," a
foreigner said.

A devotee from Karnataka said, "Baba has not gone
anywhere. He will soon come back in a new avatar."

An elderly couple from Orissa said despite his sudden
death, they are sure that the Baba will again appear before
them soon.

Expecting a large number of devotees to converge here,
police have made elaborate arrangements at the Puttaparthi
airstrip and railway station. Two temporary helipads have been
constructed to allow VIP landings.

PTI



First Published: Monday, April 25, 2011 - 11:56

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