Devotees mill around his grave

Devotees mill around his grave

Last rites: Baba buried at same place where he met followers

 This public viewing, however, was rather unremarkable and lacked the enthusiasm witnessed till Tuesday midnight when Baba’s body was on display.

The maroon screen which earlier had blocked the view of the canopy of Kulwanth Hall was lifted.

The grave was covered with wreaths after the burial ceremony ended. A group of volunteers of the Sri Sathya Sai Seva Organisation sat at the place where the body had been kept until the burial, and kept chanting ‘Sai Gayathri’.  Visitors were fewer and quieter. They had a glance of the grave from a distance of about 20 feet and did get to see the grave for a moment or two.

Hence, volunteers pushed the devotees less to keep their flow going. 

Outside the Ashram, wooden security barricades in front of the exit gate were removed and visitors moved in and out easily. The barricade, however, remained erected at the far-end of Samadhi Road and one had to take a circuitous route to reach the Gopuram Gate where devotees were being allowed inside the Ashram.

The queue

Unlike Tuesday, this queue extended only up to Karnatanagepalli or KNP Road. The unbearable heat did prevent many people from lining up. The queue, however, ran along the footpath instead of the middle of the road to avoid the scorching sun. Along the way, free water sachets and food kept coming in.

Earlier, large number of people gathered outside the Ashram and watched the burial ceremony on a giant screen placed on top of the Hill View Guest House. But once the ceremony ended, the crowd dispersed.

Elsewhere in Puttaparthi, the voluntary curfew was lifted as shops, hotels, and banks opened. The vehicle of media houses, too, began deserting the town bus stand where they had been camping since several days.

Consequently, the Andhra Pradesh State Road Transport Corporation (APSRTC) resumed its services, albeit skeletal, from the bus stand.

Time will tell whether Puttaparthi gets its soul back as the man who made it famous the world over is no more at the helms of its affairs.