Protesting against Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray’s identification of the village of Pathri as the birthplace of Sai Baba, Shirdi residents have closed all hotels, ashrams and shops indefinitely from today (19 January). Deepak Madukar Magalikar, an officer of Shri Sai Baba Sansthan Trust, said that the temple would remain open despite the shutdown.
Devotees can visit the temple normally. The decision of the citizens of Shirdi to keep their workplaces shut down will have no effect on the devotees coming to the temple to see Baba.
Magalikar said, “In some reports, it is being said that the Sai Baba temple in Shirdi will be closed from 19 January. I want to make it clear that this is just a rumour. The temple is always open for devotees.”
Due to the bandh, devotees coming to Shirdi cannot but avail of facilities like hotels, shops, ashrams, etc.
Chief Minister of Maharashtra Uddhav Thackeray, while addressing a gathering in Aurangabad, had said that development projects costing Rs 100 crore would start in the place where Sai Baba was born in Pathri village near Parbhani district.
Sai Baba‘s date of birth including his birthplace remains unknown and is debatable due to lack of evidence and no definitive information exists to prove it. Most definitive information about Shirdi Sai Baba tends to be derived from a book called Shri Sai Satcharitra (Marathi, 1922). Its writer Hemadpant (also known as Annasaheb Dabholkar or Govind Raghunath) was a devotee of Sai Baba. The book is a compilation based on accounts by his various disciples and Hemadpant’s personal observations observing Sai Baba from 1910 onwards, but that does not settle the dispute over the birthplace or date of birth of Sai Baba.
Sai Baba’s real name is not known. The name Sai was given to him by Mhalsapati when he arrived at Shirdi, a town now in the west Indian state of Maharashtra.