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Rediff.com  » News » PM, Sonia, Modi pay last respects to Sai Baba

PM, Sonia, Modi pay last respects to Sai Baba

Last updated on: April 26, 2011 20:36 IST

PM, Sonia pay last respects to Sai Baba

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Several senior leaders and dignitaries including Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Kiran Kumar Reddy and Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi visited Puttaparthi on Tuesday to pay their last respects to Sathya Sai Baba.

The spiritual leader had passed away on Sunday. His body has been kept in state at the Sai Kulwant Hall so that lakhs of followers could get a last darshan of their beloved Sai Baba.

Reportage: Vicky Nanjappa


Image: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress chief Sonia Gandhi pay their last respects
Photographs: Snapsindia
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Time for 'darshan' extended

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Former prime minister H D Deve Gowda, Vishwa Hindu Parishad leader Ashok Singhal and controversial spiritual leader Swami Nityananda also visited Puttaparthi for a last darshan.

The time for the last darshan was extended from 6 pm to Tuesday midnight in view of the many devotees who have not yet received a chance to pay their last respects.


Image: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress chief Sonia Gandhi pay their last respects

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Sai Baba's burial on Wednesday

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Lakhs of devotees have been flocking to Puttaparthi since Sunday and the queues in front of the hall seem to be endless.

Sathya Sai Baba's burial was initially scheduled to be held at 9.30 am on Wednesday, but may be postponed till 10.30 am.


Image: Sai Baba's body lies in state

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Burial with full state honours

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The burial will be conducted with full state honours. Senior members of the Andhra Pradesh government are expected to attend the event.

Members of the Sathya Sai Baba Trust and some of its volunteers will be present at the burial.


Image: Vishwa Hindu Parishad leader Ashok Singhal

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Devotees in a state of shock

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The burial will be held at the Sai Kulwant Hall from where Sathya Sai Baba used to bless his followers with regular darshans.

The devotees who have congregated at Puttaparthi continue to be in a state of shock.

"Although he was lying in state, we somehow felt that he was always there as we could see him. It would be really different once he is buried. That moment will be a very emotional one for all of us," said one of the devotees.


Image: Swami Nityananda

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'He will be there for all of us'

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"We know that his soul is always here. He will be there for all of us always. He will always be close to our hearts," said another one.

On Wednesday, shops and business establishments in Puttaparthi will remain shut. The usual prayer and bhajan sessions will commence from Thursday.


Image: Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi pays his last respects

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Government closely monitoring the situation

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The authorities are expecting a large number of people to turn up for the prayer session on Thursday, which will be the first one without Sathya Sai Baba.

How Puttaparthi will cope with this tremendous loss remains to be seen. A crucial meeting of the Sathya Sai Baba Trust has been scheduled for Wednesday after the burial is completed.

The Andhra Pradesh government is closely monitoring the situation.


Image: Devotees wait for a glimpse of Sai Baba

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