Sai Baba birthplace row: Shutdown in Shirdi but temple to remain open
Shirdi, Jan 19: Shops and eateries were shut and vehicles remained off roads in Maharashtra's Shirdi temple town on Sunday, while an MP of the ruling Shiv Sena also extended support to the bandh called over a controversy on the birthplace of 19th century saint Saibaba. However, the famous Sai Baba temple in the town will remain open, Deepak Madukar Muglikar, Chief Executive Officer of Shri Saibaba Sansthan Trust said on Saturday.
The temple attracts lakhs of devotees from all over India every year. Controversy erupted after Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray announced a grant of Rs 100 crore for development of facilities at 'Sai janmasthan' (birthplace) at Pathri in Parbhani district.
Pathri is considered to be the birthplace of Saibaba by some devotees. But residents of Shirdi claimed that the exact birthplace of the famed saint was not known.
Deepak Mugalikar, chief executive officer of the Shree Saibaba Sansthan Trust at Shirdi, said the temple will remain open despite the bandh call. Local BJP MLA Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil said he supported the call for shut-down given by the local people.
"The chief minister should withdraw his statement that Pathri was Saibaba's birthplace," he demanded.
"Pathri only has one of several Sai temples in the country. All Sai devotees are feeling hurt, so this controversy should be ended," the former state minister said.
Congress leader and former chief minister Ashok Chavan had said on Friday that creation of facilities for devotees at Pathri should not be opposed over the controversy over birthplace.