Shani Shingnapur – A Doorless City
Shani Shingnapur is a village in the Indian State, Maharashtra. It is situated in the Nevasa taluka in Ahmednagar district. The village is known for its popular temple of Shani, the Hindu god associated with the planet Saturn (Shani Graha). This village is 35 km from the Ahmednagar city.
This village also is well-known and is famous for the fact that no houses in the village have no doors and locks. The village has a post office and a school, Shri Shaniswara Vidhya Mandir, which is run by the Zilla Parishad. Neither of these post office nor the school has doors and locks. Despite this, there was no theft reported in the village until 2010. The villagers believed that god Shani punished anyone who attempted to steal things in the village. The chief water source in the village is wells.
The temple is believed to be a “Jagrut Devasthan” which means alive temple. The villagers believe that the god still resides in the temple icon. The god here is “Swayambhu” which means self-emerged from the earth in the form of a black imposing stone. It is believed that the Swayambhu is in existence since the start of kali yuga. But actually, no one knows the exact period. It is believed that the Swayambhu Shaniswara statue was found by the shepherds of the then local hamlet.
History Of Swayambhu Shaniswara Statue:
The story of Swayambhu Shaniswara statue goes like this:
When a shepherd touched the stone with a pointed rod, the stone started bleeding. The shepherd was astonished and soon the village people gathered to watch the miracle. Lord Shaniswara appeared in the dream of the most devoted shepherd that night. The lord told the shepherd that he was Shaniswara. He told that the black stone was his Swayambhu. The shepherd prayed to the lord and asked if he had to build a temple for him. The lord said that he doesn’t need any roof as the whole sky is a roof for him and he prefers to be under the open sky. The lord asked the shepherd to do pooja daily and Thailabishekam on Saturday without fail. The shepherd promised the lost for this and they will have no fear of thieves or burglars.
Even today, lord Shaniswara can be seen in the open yard without any roof above. Due to the fear of lord Shani, none of the houses, shops, located within 1 km radius of the lord Shaniswara temple have no doors and locks. Someone who tried to steal things have died vomiting blood within minutes before they crossed the boundary. Some others are said that they received severe punishments such as long sickness, mental imbalance, etc.
Thousands of devotees visit the temple daily for praying the lord Shaniswara. The place will be very busy on Saturdays. “Shani Thrayodasi and Amavasya falling on Saturday” are considered to be the favorite days of the lord. During these days, the temple was completely filled with devotees seeking his blessings.
The shrine for Shani consists of a five and a half feet high black rock installed on an open-air platform. A Trishula (trident) is placed along the side of the image and a Nandi (bull) image is on the south side. The small idols of Shiva and Hanuman are placed in front of the shrine.
In January 2011, the United Commercial (UCO) Bank opened a ‘lockless’ branch in the village. It turns out to be the first of its kind in the country. It took note of the near-zero crime rate in the region to open this lockless branch. The local police were reported to be unhappy over this development that it amounted to a breach of conditions. This is because the Central government of India has made it mandatory for all banks to have high security. The bank has doors, but they 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.
Until now, there were only three cases of theft. First, it was in 2010, cash and items worth Rs. 35000/- were stolen from a vehicle. Then in 2011, Rs. 50000/-, gold rings, mobile phone, etc. was stolen from the home of a retired official of the Shree Shanaishwar Devasthan Trust. And then again in January 2012, gold ornaments were stolen from within the temple. But still, villagers never keep their valuables locked. Their houses are still without doors.
According to the 400-year tradition, women were restricted to not enter the inner sanctum. On 26 January 2016, a group of 500 women marched to the temple demanding entry to the inner sanctum. But in a landmark judgment on 30 March 2016, the high court asked the Maharashtra government to ensure that women are not denied entry in any temple. Finally, it was on 8 April 2016, that the women devotees were allowed to enter into the sanctum.
Shani Shingnapur area is completely covered with sugarcane fields. The local people don’t use machines to extract juice from the sugarcane. Instead, they do this with the help of bull.
Shani Shingnapur is also called as Shani Shinganapur, Sonai (in Marathi) or just Shani.
You May Also Like: An Indian Codman, Natwarlal Sold Taj Mahal, Indian Parliament Many Times