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Sai Baba's last rites begin

india Updated: Apr 27, 2011 10:04 IST

IANS
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The last rites of spiritual leader Sathya Sai Baba began with full state honours at Prashanti Nilayam in Puttaparthi on Wednesday morning amid the chanting of Vedic hymns.

The ceremonies began at 9am in Sai Kulwant Hall, where the Baba used to give 'darshan' to devotees and deliver discourses.

As the rituals began inside, policemen outside Prashanti Nilayam gave a gun salute.

Baba's nephew RJ Ratnakar performed rituals like sprinkling of holy water on the mortal remains before the burial.

Only 600 selected people, including family members of Baba, members and officials of Sathya Sai Central Trust, his close disciples and VIPs, were attending the last rites, being telecast on various television channels.

Earlier, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) senior leader LK Advani, Punjab Governor Shirvraj Patil, Karnataka chief minister BS Yeddyurappa, Andhra Pradesh Governor ESL Narasimhan, chief minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy, former chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu and several ministers from Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka paid their last respects.

Thousands of devotes had last 'darshan' of Baba till Tuesday midnight.

The 85-year-old guru died on Sunday, 28 days after he was admitted to hospital with multi-organ dysfunction.

Since then, the body has been kept in Prashanti Nilayam to enable people to pay their last respects.