President, PM to attend Sai Baba birthday celebrations


Hyderabad : President Pratibha Patil and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will visit Andhra Pradesh’s Puttaparthi town – the abode of Sathya Sai Baba – to take part in the spiritual leader’s birthday celebrations beginning Wednesday.

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Patil will participate in a “women’s day” seminar Nov 19. She will spend a couple of hours at Prashanti Nilayam, the ashram of Sai Baba in Puttaparthi in Anantapur district. Sai Baba will pay tributes to his mother Eswaramma that day.

Manmohan Singh will visit Puttaparthi Nov 22 to address the 29th convocation of Sri Sathya Sai University. The prime minister will spend about three hours in Prashanthi Nilayam.

Prashanthi Nilayam is already abuzz with activity for Sai Baba’s 85th birthday Nov 23. Thousands from different parts of the country and abroad are descending on the pilgrim town to seek his blessings.

Sathyanarayana Raju or Sathya Sai Baba was born Nov 23, 1926 at Puttaparthi. In 1940, he claimed he was an ‘avatar’ of god.

He became famous with his miracles but stopped performing them in the 1990s after rationalists accused him of fraud. Since then Sai Baba has focused only on social and charitable work.

The Sri Sathya Sai Seva Organisation is providing many facilities to devotees for the birthday celebrations. ‘Annadanam’ or feeding of the poor has been organised on a massive scale in the town.

The organisation has made arrangements for mass marriages of impoverished girls Wednesday. Students of Sathya Sai primary school will present a cultural programme the next day.

On the occasion of his birthday, Sai Baba will bless the devotees and address them at Hilllview Stadium.

Puttaparthi, once a small hamlet, is now an international spiritual centre with an airport and railway station.

The Sai Baba Trust has set up a state-of-the-art hospital, university and several other institutions to serve the poor.