Puttaparthi, Apr 27: Prashanthi Nilayam will now be known as the final resting place of Sai Baba for the millions of devotees spread across the world. Following his demise on Apr 24, thousands had converged to the town of Puttaparthi to pay homage to the godman who was a humanist, more than someone who did miracles. His last rites are scheduled to be conducted on Wednesday, Apr 27 at the Sai Kulwant Hall where his body is being kept.
The ceremony will commence at 9 am which also happens to be Baba's favourite number and will continue till 10:30am. The 'maha samadhi' will be held at the Sai Kulwant Hall where Baba's body will be buried in a pit in the sleeping position.
The private funeral ceremony will be attended by trust members, close family members and other VVIPs. He will be buried with full state honours and the last rites will be conducted as per Hindu tradition. A source within the Prashanthi Nilayam has been quoted as saying, "The body would be lowered in the pit and filled with Kuruskshetra' matti (soil), salt, silver, gold and navaratnas."
The rituals will be carried out by 18 priests that will be headed by Kandukoori Kondavadhani from Rajahmundry in Andhra Pradesh. They will be joined by priests from Kashi and nine other peethas across the country. The last rites will be performed by R J Ratnakar, Baba's nephew and an integral part of the Sri Sathya Sai Baba Central Trust.
With all efforts in place to carry out the rites on par with stringent Hindu tradition, the process will include all elements of nature in the form of Saptha Nadi (seven rivers), navaratna (nine gems), navadaana (giving of nine gifts) and sugandha dravya (perfumeries). Water from the sacred rivers of Narmada, Sindhu, Cauvery, Godavari, Ganga and Jamuna also will be brought.
Following the mass influx of devotees into Puttaparthi, trust members extended the darshan time of Sai Baba's body till 12 midnight on Tuesday. Devotees will, however, be able to have a darshan of the samadhi mandir (burial place) for two more days, Apr 28 and 29.