Shani Shinganapur: A Lockless village where God is Guardian
In the modern times where, together with the technology advances, crimes too become more sophisticated and the concerns for more and more security measures gains priority, is it possible to imagine a place where people live in harmony in no-door-no-locks-houses ? It may seem unbelievable but as a matter of fact, true! There is indeed a tiny hamlet where houses and other buildings like shops have no doors, and that place is in the country of countless legends and myths – India.
|Shani Dev Idol|
That peculiar place is ‘Shani Shingnapur’, a village located in Maharashtra state about 350 kilometers away from the state capital Mumbai and 60 kilometers from the popular pilgrim place Shirdi.
|Entrance of Shani Shinganapur|
The place where many go to get blessed by the Lord Shanishwara, the presiding deity of the temple at Shani Shingnapur is Lord Shanidev or Lord Shanishwara who is believed to be the personification of the planet Saturn. He is respected and is worshipped with a lot of devotion by his devotees. Millions of people from across the entire world come to Shani Shingnapur to get spiritual benefits. The deity is of black stone and this sight sends many devotees into frenzy.
In Shani Shingnapur village, people live in houses with no doors for generations! Here one can find only curtains (that is also rare) in the place of doors. The only temporary guard is barriers – that too to keep off stray animals. Here villagers get to their daily routines without bothering about their house’s security or fear of thieves. For them, everything is dedicated to the Lord Shani. The belief is, whoever steals anything from this place will incur the wrath of Shani God and will have to pay for his/her sins very dearly. When Shani Shingnapur natives go outside their village, they don’t ask their neighbors to keep vigil on their house & belongings. There is no Police station in this village too. They have no role here!
|No Doors in Homes|
In the 156-year history of village Shani Shingnapur in Ahmednagar district in Maharashtra, residents have never installed doors to their houses. Nor do they have a fettish for keeping things locked. Even new constructions such as police stations, guest houses, resorts, telephone exchange and other government buildings follow the rule. The post boxes too have no doors, wire meshes with open designs stop the letters from tumbling out. In case residents want to hang curtains on the door openings it is mandatory that they should be transparent. Despite the changes in the intervening years, the estimated 6500 residents in this village live with the singular belief that Lord Shaneshwar (Saturn) protects them from thieves and other ills. Surprisingly, there is no such bar for those living outside the parameters of Shani Shingnapur. Visit any part of this village and even the most plush bungalows follow the stated rule.
|No Doors & No Locks in Home|
Shani Shingnapur village is famous in all over India due to Shani Dev. There are some legends about the village. The Legends are
"There is God, but no temple."
"There is a home, but no door."
"There is a tree, but no shade."
"There is fear, but no enemy."
Legend has it that Suryadev was the son of Brahma and he was married to Sandna the daughter of Daksha Prajapati. They had two sons Shri Shaneshwar and Dakshinadhipati. Tapti, Kalindi, Savitri and Bhadra were their daughters. Sandna could not bear Surya’s harsh heat and so created her duplicate form Sanvarna and asked her to live as Sandna with Suryadev. Sanvarna started doing all the duties of a wife and lived with Suryadev. She told Sanvarna she would reveal this to Suryadev when time comes. Sandna went to her father Daksha’s place and Daksha did not accept her. Sandna started penancing in dejection. She turned herself into a mare. In the meantime, Sanvarna lived her life and had children of her own. One day Lord Shanidev was hungry and asked her to give something. Shanidev went on nagging her and kicked his mother in the frustration. Sanvarna cursed that his leg should break. When Shanidev complained about this to Lord Surya, he realized that a mother couldn’t talk this way. Soon he found out what Sandna had done and mellowed the curse on Shanidev and promised that he would be worshipped by people. Thus Shanidev has a lame leg due to the curse getting milder and the temple is at Shani Shingnapur.
|Shops selling Puja Items|
In January 2011, the United Commercial (UCO) Bank opened a 'lockless' branch in the village, the first of its kind in the country, taking note of the near-zero crime rate in the region. The local police were reported to be unhappy over this development and that it amounted to a breach of conditions, because the Central government of India has made it mandatory for all banks to have high security.The bank has doors,but they will always remain open. However, it was reported by the local legislator and the bank officials that adequate precautions were being taken for the safety of lockers and important documents.
Unique Features of Shinganapur:
1. No shelter over Shani Maharaj - As per the instructions received from Shani Maharaj himself, there is no roof or temple built over his idol.
2. No doors or locks in houses - The most unique feature in Shingnapur that differentiated this village from any other place in the world is that there are no doors or locks to houses. The villagers firmly believe that Shani Maharaj protects them from thieves and wrong doers and they only have door frames and curtains in the place of doors and locks. There are several stories narrated by local villagers about how nobody in the village would dare to make an attempt to steal other's property and also about how when some outsiders have made an attempt to steal they have been punished by Shani Maharaj.
3. No branches grow over the Moolasthan - There was a neem tree that grew near the Moolasthan but everytime a branch grew near Shani Maharaj it would automatically break and fall down. Few years ago, this tree fell and another fig tree has grown there. This too does not extend its branches upto the idol.
4. Water poured over the idol is cure for snakebite - In case of any incident of snakebite in the village, all that the villagers do is to bring the person in white clothes to the temple. A male relative in wet clothes performes abhishekam to the idol and the water is given to the person to drink. In a couple of hours, the person regains consciousness and is not affected by the poison.
5. Shani Maharaj's palanquin- Devotees worship Shani Maharaj's palanquin placed closed to the Moolasthan which has a huge wooden slipper in it. Several shops sell miniatures of this wooden slipper that people buy and take home as talisman.
6. Lamp that burns 24*7 - There is a lamp that burns through day and night in front of the moolasthan.
About the Temple: he shrine of Shani Bhagwan is open to the elements of weather and the idol is kept on a raised platform, where the devotees themselves used to touch and perform abishegam to the deity earlier. But now, they can only circumambulate the image and offer the oil for abishegam in a tank kept for the purpose near the platform from where the oil is sent continuously to a dripping vessel hanging above the image of the deity.
Shani Bagwan is a gurdian of this village and people live peacefully without any fear.
Location: Shani Shiganapur is in Ahmednagar District of Maharashtra state. It is about 35 km from Ahmednagar and 84 km from Aurangabad. Shinganapur is well connected by Road and Rail. The nearest airports are Mumbai, Aurangabad and Pune. From any of these airports, one can hire a cab or van to Shani Shinganapur.
The nearest airport is at Aurangabad, which is 90 km from Shani Shinganapur and the nearest railway station is Srirampur.
Distance from Mumbai is about 330 km by road. It can also be accessed from Shirdi, another important religious place in Maharashtra, and is about 65 km by road.
A travel tip: Generally people visiting, Shiidi or Shani Shinganapur combine Ranjangaon also in their trip. where there is a temple for Maha Ganapathi (Ashta Ganapathi) is situated.
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