Sai Baba's Birthday Celebration with a Million Close Friends and Meyer Sound
Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba has long been one of Asia's most beloved and colorful spiritual leaders. A larger-than-life figure for decades, his legions of devotees have included movie celebrities, sports stars, politicians and followers from India and all corners of the world.
Needless to say, Sai Baba's 80th birthday celebration was a highly anticipated event for some time. The city of Puttaparthi, home to Baba's residence, the ashram Prasanthi Nilayam (Abode of Peace), saw a massive influx of visitors, with an estimated million or more treated to meals and accommodation at the ashram.
The multi-day festivities concluded with a celebration held at Puttaparthi's sports stadium, a massive venue seating several hundred thousand. The ceremony was attended by several prominent politicians, including the governor of Andhra Pradesh (the state in which Puttaparthi is located), as well as a number of India's top cricket stars. Performances from an international symphony orchestra and a choir of voices augmented Sai Baba's hour-long address to the faithful.
The stadium, decorated with flowers and the flags of 160 countries, hosted a virtual sea of humanity estimated at half a million. The challenge of getting the soft-spoken guru's words to the ears of the assembled multitudes was met by Bangalore-based Reynold Sound and Lighting with a huge Meyer Sound rig.
"We used our entire Meyer Sound inventory for the event," reports Reynold's Felix Remedios. "I'm certain that's a first for India." A main line array system comprised of 24 MILO high-power curvilinear array loudspeakers and 12 M3D line array loudspeakers was augmented by 32 MSL-4 horn-loaded long-throw loudspeakers and 16 DS-4P horn-loaded long-throw loudspeakers, with additional fill provided by a dozen CQ-1 wide coverage main loudspeakers and 12 more UPA-1P compact wide coverage loudspeakers. Low frequencies were amply covered by 10 700-HP ultrahigh-power subwoofers and 32 750-P extended range subwoofers.
"The sound was absolutely spectacular," remarked Hanno di Rosa, a veteran FOH engineer who has attended many of Baba's celebratory events. "The team was highly professional, and the audio system was more than excellent. Baba was very pleased, as were the five or six lakh (hundred thousand) in the stadium. This year, the festival was truly given the level of sonic excellence it deserved."