Shirdi (Maharashtra), Mar.18 (ANI): Tens of thousands of devotees of Sai Baba were recently given Anna Dana at the annual prasadalaya function here, taking forward a tradition first started by the Sai Baba himself.
Devotees accepted the delicious prasad at a nominal rate.
Sources at the Shree Sai Baba Sansthan Trust said, nearly 1.5 crore devotees benefited from the prasad and the meals that were served.
The trust spends Rs.25 crore annually on the prasadlaya. The donation is considered very valuable in today's age, which is known as KALYUG in the Hindu mythological context.
According to the trust, one should constantly endeavor to donate and help the needy, especially those who are suffering from hunger and malnutrition.
Legend has it that Sai Baba used to feed the hungry in his own unique way, taking the whole process to a spiritual plane.
He used to prepare the food himself, and ground the spices on a grinding stone. He also used to purchase foodgrains that were to be cooked and subsequently distributed by him personally.
The trust is really a place of faith for all Sai Baba devotees. They relish their food, which can be procured for as little as Rs.5 per person and Rs.2 for a child.
On any given normal day, 35,000 to 40,000 devotees attend the activities at the Sai Baba Trust. During occasions like festivals and vacations, the number goes up to 70,000 or 80,000.
One hall can accommodate up to 5,000 devotees, and a meal often includes servings of rice, roti, dal, two vegetables and a sweetmeat.
Free provision of food is given to the poor, blind, the physically challenged and hermits.
The prasadalaya purchases the foodgrains once a year, and it includes 9000 quintals of wheat, 5,500 quintals of rice, 6,500 quintals of besan, 9,500 quintals of sugar, and 11,000 quintals of tur dal, besides 6,200 quintals of vegetables which are stored in the cold storage of the trust. Another 2000 quintals of food grains is also purchased every year.
The prasadalaya operates for twelve hours every day and has 474 workers., 404 of whom are permanent.
The prasadalaya is the largest of its kind in India. A one storeyed building which has been built on seven acres of land at a cost of Rs.20 crores. (ANI)