New Delhi: Temple town of Shirdi in Maharashtra, associated with revered 19th-century saint Sai Baba, on Sunday started an indefinite bandh against Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray’s recent remarks describing Pathri in Parbhani district as the ‘birthplace’ of Sai Baba. Also Read - Shirdi Bandh on Jan 19: Sai Temple to Remain Open Tomorrow
However, as announced by bandh organisers, the Sai Baba temple opened normally as devotees lined up outside, waiting for their turn to go inside and offer prayers to Sai Baba.
The controversy is related to Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray’s recent announcement that Pathri will be developed as Sai Baba’s birthplace and allotted Rs 100 crore for the project. The decision was taken at a review meeting chaired by the Chief Minister to review the development plans in the Parbhani district.
Shirdi locals, however, argue that there is no document available that says anything about Sai Baba’s birthplace. They also argue that the saint himself never shared any information about his birthplace or religion during his stay in Shirdi.
On Saturday, announcing that the temple would stay open during the bandh, Deepak Madukar Muglikar, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Shri Saibaba Sansthan Trust (SSST), had clarified to news agency ANI that reports circulating in media that the Sai Baba temple, too, will be shut during the bandh were false and that the temple would be open on Sunday too.
He had also promised that devotees coming to Shirdi will not face any difficulty.
Shirdi’s Sai Baba Temple is one of the most popular religious destinations in the country. Lakhs of devotees visit the shrine every year.