The township of Puttaparthi, in Andhra Pradesh, India is all set to celebrate Sri Sathya Sai Baba’s 85th birthday today, Nov. 23.
The Sathya Sai Seva Organization said that over a million devotees have thronged at Puttaparthi. And arrangements have been made for broadcast via satellite for coverage by television networks and video recordings in 16 states in India and 62 countries worldwide.[ Also Read: Obama Ignored Outcries of Sikh Widows: Statement ]
India – a country of over one billion people – has dozens of religions and hundreds of spiritual leaders who manage different sects. However, Hinduism is stated to be the main religion followed by over three-fourth of the population.
Other major religions followed by people in India include Islam, Christianity, and Sikhism.[ Also Read: Peepli Dead: True Story of Cyber Zombies in India ]
Sri Sathya Sai Baba’s 85th birthday celebrations, ‘The Festival of Divine Love’ began on Nov. 15 with a symphony of sound and spirit as hundreds of devotees from world over have been arriving at Puttaparthi all through the week, says the organization.[ Also Read: After Mosque, Demand for Ground Zero Church ]
The inaugural performance of the festivities was by the world-renowned Sarod Maestro, Ustad Amjad Ali Khan followed by the (South Indian) Carnatic Vocalist Sri Abhishek Raghuram.
During the week, the Sri Sathya Sai Village Integrated Program (SSSVIP) exhibition displayed its initiative for the holistic development of Indian villages.[ Also Read: Life and beyond… By Rakesh Raman ]
The celebrations also witnessed the mass marriage ceremony where 85 couples were bound in holy matrimony with the wedding cost borne by Sri Sathya Sai Baba’s organization.
On Nov. 19, the organization says, the President of India, Pratibha Patil attended Women’s Day being observed at Puttaparthi; organized by Sri Sathya Sai Easwaramma Women’s welfare Trust (SSSEWWT) – a project which through its various initiatives renders empowerment to women.
The President said, “Today, we are gathered at Puttaparthi to begin the 85th birthday celebrations of Sri Sathya Sai Baba. I pay my regards and I wish him the very best on this occasion. His progressive views on the role of women are inspiring.”
And on Nov. 22, on the eve of his 85th birthday, it is said that the Prime Minister of India, Dr. Manmohan Singh attended the 29th Convocation ceremony of Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning.
Sri Sathya Sai Baba preaches the five-fold path: Sathya (Truth), Dharma (Righteousness), Shanthi (Peace), Prema (Love), and Ahimsa (Non-Violence).
In the picture above: The President of India, Pratibha Patil with Sri Sathya Sai Baba (sitting) during the Women’s Day Celebrations at Puttaparthi on Nov. 19.