Shirdi Bandh: Row over Sai Baba’s birthplace.
After Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray sparked a row with his comments on Sai Baba’s birthplace, a ‘bandh’ is called in Shirdi town for Sunday.
The controversy began after Uddhav Thackeray announced a grant of Rs 100 crore for the development of facilities at “Sai Janmasthan” (birthplace) at Pathri.
The local people in Shirdi took exception to the CM’s announcement. They say the birthplace of the famous saint is not known. And Pathri cannot make a claim to being his birthplace.
Temple remains open.
Deepak Mugalikar, CEO of Shree Sai Baba Sansthan Trust, says that the temple would remain open even in the bandh call.
Shops, eateries, various other commercial establishments, and local transport remain shut in the Shirdi in response to the bandh. Several devotees of the 19th-century saint took out a protest march on Sunday.
The Shirdi bandh began at midnight, but the Saibaba temple remains open. And devotees are visiting to offer prayers. The ‘prasadalaya’ and the temple kitchen are also open to ensure devotees do not face any inconvenience.
Long queues of devotees are there in front of the ‘prasadalaya’, breakfast center and ‘laddoo’ sale centers of the temple, according to sources.
Devotees with pre-bookings at hotels can stay there. Taxi services from the airport to the temple are functioning as usual. The bus services are also working as usual.
Sai Baba, whose devotees cut across religious lines, spent much of his life at Shirdi in Ahmednagar district. “Pathri only has one of several Sai temples in the country. All Sai devotees are feeling hurt,” says the former state minister.
Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray has convened a meeting over the issue at the state secretariat in Mumbai on Monday.
The residents of Shirdi are claiming that the temple will lose its importance if the state government decides to develop Pathri as the birthplace of Saibaba.