New Delhi: It is rare to see houses without doors and shops being left unlocked, but this is reportedly the case in Shani Shingnapur, a village in Maharashtra. The villagers have no fear because they believe in Lord Shani who is considered to be the guardian of the village. The villagers have the faith that since Lord Shani himself protects their village, there is no need for them to worry about any kind of security.
A village with only door frames
Shingnapur reportedly does not have any houses with doors, and they have only door frames. But although the houses have no doors and the shops are kept unlocked, incidents of theft do not take place in the village. And there is an interesting story behind its association with Lord Shani.
It is believed that the deity of Lord Shani is ‘Swayambhu’ which means that the deity itself emerged from the earth in the form of a black, imposing stone. According to the legends, centuries ago, a heavy black slab of rock was found on the shores of the now-extinct Panasnala River after the place was lashed by incessant rain and flooding. When a shepherd touched the stones with a pointed rod, it started to bleed much to the astonishment of the person and everyone else present there.
Later that night, Lord Shani appeared in the dream of the shepherd and said that the black stone was his swayambhu form. Lord Shani said that the rock should stay in the village as he would live there. But there should be no temple for the rock as the whole sky is his roof and he should be able to see the village without any hindrance. He blessed the village and said that there would be no fear of dacoits or burglars or thieves in that place.
As per the instructions of Lord Shani, the villagers kept the stone in the open yard without any roof above. Also, they decided to discard all doors and locks since the village was and is being protected by God. The practice is followed by the villagers even today. While some place wooden panels against their front door frames to keep out stray dogs, they prefer not to have any permanent doors. They keep their homes unguarded even while going somewhere else, believing that Lord Shani will protect them from any mishap.
The villagers believe that those who steal anything in the village will be punished immediately with blindness, and a dishonest person will endure bad luck for seven-and-a-half years. Interestingly, one villager installed wooden panes at the entrance of his house and on the next day, he had a car accident.
In January 2011, the UCO Bank opened a ‘lockless’ branch in the village, the first of its kind in India. Even though the bank has doors, they reportedly always remain open. However, adequate precautions have been taken to protect the possessions of the bank. In September 2015, the village got a police station but it also has no front door and no crimes to investigate.
The shrine of Lord Shani
The black stone, a form of Lord Shani is five and a half feet high and is kept in an open platform. On one side of the stone, there is a trident and on the other side, there is the bull Nandi. In front of the deity, there are small images of Lord Shiva and Lord Hanuman.
The shrine reportedly witnesses the footfall of around 40,000 devotees every day. The number of devotees becomes three lakh during ‘amavaysa’ as it is considered to be the most auspicious day to appease Lord Shani.