Thursday, May 28, 2015

Shani Shingnapur, a Lockless village where God is Guardian

Shani Shingnapur
Shani Shingnapur – Houses Have No Door Frames/Locks 

Shani Shingnapur or Shani Shingnapur is a village in the Indian state of Maharashtra which is situated in Nevasa taluka the district of Ahmednagar. The village here is known for the popular temple of Shani. The Hindu god is associated with the planet Saturn – graha and Shingnapur is about 35 km from the city of Ahmednagar.

The deity of Shingnapur – Sri Shaneshwara or Lord Shanidev, the epitome of the planet Saturn is worshipped with great reverence and devotion by several devotees from all over the world. The most amazing fact with regards to this place is that none of the temple structures has the Shanidev and there is only a simple platform on which the idol of swayambhu is placed, which is of black stone.

The devotees here unlike the other pilgrimage centres can perform puja themselves, or any other religious rituals. Exceptional aspects of the village Shingnapur, is that the houses do not have door frames or locks for the purpose of safety. The locals here are of the belief that it is the blessing of the god that there are no crimes taking place in this village. The attraction of this village is the Shri Dattatraya Temple and the tomb of Sant Shri Udai Baba.

Shouting out For Help in Case of Intruders 

This village in India with around 300 odd buildings of homes, educational institutions as well as banks do not seem to have door and the cash is stored in unlocked containers as well as the valuables like gold jewellery.

Most of the public toilets in the village square have no doors and according to a shopkeeper, Parmeshwar Mane, who informed that for the sake of privacy and on requests from women, they have recently agreed to have a thin curtain at the entrance though no doors, since it would go against their belief. Some however tend to have loose door panels against their door frames but the same is done only during night time to keep the wild animals and stray dogs away.

 The only issue with regards to the lack of doors is that there could be no indication of announcing any entry. However, according to one of the villagers, Rani explains that on shouting out someone could come to the door for rescue.

Shani Shingnapur
No Security Measures 

The locals of this village have no need of security measures since they have an undying faith in the local deity Shani – the God of Saturn. According to legends, it was believed that centuries ago, an iron and stone slab had been washed against the shore of a nearby river during a flood and when the slab was poked by cattle herders with a stick, it oozed out blood.

Shani had appeared in the dream to the village head, later that night and had revealed that the slab was his own idol who in turn informed the villagers that the idol was powerful and the need to place it under shelter was not essential. He also informed them that the villagers would not need to install doors again since they were protected from every type of danger.

A mill worker informed that the power of Shani is such that if anyone tends to steal, he would be walking all night and be under the impression that he has left the village and when the sun comes up he will find himself still in the village. They are also of the belief that anyone committing sins in the village would have to face `Sade Saati’, meaning seven and a half years of bad luck. Till date, the five foot naked slab still continues to be worshipped at the local shrine which is placed in the open.

Reputation of the Village Changed - 2010

Shani Shingnapur has inhabitants of around 5,000 locals. Its distinctive door less practice became popular in India in 1990s when the village was featured in a devotional film. Sayaram Bankar, a trustee at the shrine informed that the whole world got to known about its existence that there is a place known as Shani Shingnapur where the houses were without doors, trees but no shadows, there are gods but no temple.

Thereafter, devotees from all across the state came to see the unusual village. It is a fact that till 15years ago, the villagers were depended on sugar cane farming as their main source of income though tourism has now become their main source of income where around 40,000 tourist tend to visit this village daily.

Though this village has been free from any type of theft for centuries, the reputation of this village has changed due to some robberies where in 2010, there was a complaint from a visitor that cash and valuables amounting to Rs 35,000 had been stolen from his vehicle. This incident was dismissed by the trustee stating that the incident had been taken place outside the village.

Some of the villagers are now choosing in ignoring the legend and are installing doors and according to Ajay, a farmer, he informs that he wants to take precautions to ensure that his family is safe though he would have to face resistance from the villagers but does not want to take chances.

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