Hyderabad: Nearly a month after the demise of spiritual leader Sathya Sai Baba, his ashram at Puttaparthi in Andhra Pradesh`s Anantapur district has started celebrating religious festivals.
In an attempt to attract pilgrims from different parts of India and abroad, Sri Sathya Sai Central Trust, which manages the godman`s spiritual empire, has made elaborate arrangements to celebrate various festivals, trust officials said on Monday.
According to the officials, the celebrations will be similar in scale to the ones held when Sathya Sai Baba was alive.
The trust has made elaborate arrangements to celebrate Buddha Poornima, the birth anniversary of Lord Buddha, on Tuesday and Wednesday at Prashanti Nilayam, the asharam-turned-samadhi of Baba.
About 700 devotees from Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Nepal, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Vietnam will be attending the two-day celebrations, trust officials said.
This is the first time since Baba`s demise in April that such a large number of devotees from abroad are coming to the pilgrim town.
As the main attraction of Puttaparthi is gone with the spiritual guru`s death, the trust is planning to celebrate festivals on a grand scale to attract pilgrims.
The trust also celebrated Easwaramma Day, or the birth anniversary of Sathya Sai Baba`s mother Easwaramma, on May 6. A large number of poor were fed on the day at the Sri Sathya Sai Hill View Stadium.
Devotees continue to flock to Prashanti Nilayam every day to pray at Baba`s samadhi. However, the number of people visiting the ashram nowdays is nowhere close to the time when Baba was alive.
Trust officials are hoping that the samadhi at Sai Kulwant Hall would become a major pilgrim centre at par with the samadhi of Shirdi Sai Baba at Shirdi, Maharashtra.
The trust also plans to build a temple at the samadhi and is still in the process of finalising rituals to be performed there.
Meanwhile, the trust continues to discharge its responsibilities without a chairman. The trustees have decided to keep the post vacant, saying that nobody can be Baba`s successor and he will remain the trust`s permanent chairman.