Thursday 10 January 2013

Here, houses have no doors or locks

India is a land of many myths and legends.There are surprises at every nook and corner. Almost every village and every city has its own unique tale to tell.
However, nothing van take away from this startling tale of a small town or rather village that has no doors in its houses. The houses are unlocked and the villagers strongly believe that their houses and properties are guarded by God.
Till date there has not been a single case of theft reported from the village. Isn’t this surprising in the age of violence, arson, loot and rape.
Yes, this village in Maharashtra is a study in surprises. It is called Shani Shingnapur and as the name itself suggest it has a deity of Shani which is supposed to be so powerful that he does not let anyone commit a theft in the village.
With such a powerful God taking care of the village, who needs a policeman. Not the villagers or the local post office or even a nationalize bank which has opened its branch here.
The village has many houses with door frames but no doors at all. Thus the rooms are always unlocked. Despite this, no theft has been reported so far.
The villagers of Shani Singapur do not keep even their valuables under lock and key. They strongly believe that the temple is a "jagrut devasthan" (alive temple), meaning that the God here is very powerful and that he is a living being.
They believe that Shani metes out immediate punishment to anyone attempting theft. The village has a post office and a high school known as Shri Shanishwar Vidya Mandir besides the primary schools run by theZilla Parishat. In January 2011, the United Commercial (UCO) Bank opened a lockless branch in the village, the first of its kind in the country.
Strangely, the local police were unhappy over this development and felt that it amounted to a breach of conditions, because the Centre has made it mandatory for all banks to take adequate security and safety precautions.
The bank has doors, but they will always remain open-another first in India.
The temple of  Shani consists of a five and a half feet high black rock installed on an open-air platform. A trident is placed along the side of the idol age and a bull is on its south side.
In front of Shani are the small images of Shiva and Anjaneya. The temple attracts thousands of visitors every day. The priest there says the average daily count of devotees is in the range of 30,000 to 40,000 and they go up to 3 lakhs on Amavaysa.
Shani Shingnapur is about 35 kilometres from Ahmednagar, 160 kms from Pune and 84 kms from Aurangabad.
The nearest railway station is  Srirampur. The village is also well-connected to Shirdi, which is 65 kms away.
Usually, devotees visiting the Sai Baba temple at Shirdi make a trip to Shani Shingnapur. Another amazing fact is that this temple is never closed. It is open all round the clock and on all days.   
The devotees are allowed to pray anytime as the temple always remains open.
The prayers can even be performed by the men at night, though women are not allowed to enter the temple at night at all as that is not considered inauspicious.
The statue of Shani has no roof  as the villagers say that the God  himself asked them not to cover him. Again, the temple has no doors as the devotees believe that Shani will protect himself and his devotees all the time.
The deity can be only touched by men. Women are just allowed to view them and pray. The men are expected to take bath before going to the temple and those who want to touch the idol have to wear a saffron dhoti given at the temple itself.
These are compulsory requirements before performing prayers to Lord Shani. The devotees can perform pooja and abhishek (tilak) and all other customs and ceremonies to the deity in the temple. 

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