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Thousands Gather For Funeral Of Indian Hindu Guru

In India, thousands of people have gathered for the funeral of Sathya Sai Baba, one of India's most influential spiritual leaders who had won followers around the world.

Sai Baba was buried on April 27 in the southern town of Puttaparti, where he gave his sermons. Hindus usually cremate their dead, but Sai Baba was buried, in a custom accorded to Hindu holy men.

Sai Baba, who was in his mid-80s, passed away on April 24. He was credited by supporters with healing powers and performing miracles, and has been praised for building hospitals, schools, clinics, and prayer centers with donations.

Sai Baba ashrams are reported to exist in more than 120 countries. He was dismissed by some critics, however, as a charlatan who used magic tricks.

Since his death, figures including Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Sonia Gandhi, leader of the ruling Congress party, have visited Puttaparti to pay their respects to Sai Baba.

compiled from agency reports