Shani Shingnapur – A village in the Ahmednagar district of Maharashtra, named after a Hindu God Shanidev, has a Shani temple.
The legend has it that about 300 years ago, a large amount of rain flooded the village. At that time a person saw a heavy block of rock in the Panasnala river. The person then touched that rock with a pointed stick. On touching the rock, it started bleeding. Shocked by this, he ran to the village and told the whole story.
Hearing the story, the villagers soon gathered there to see the unusual rock. On the same night, God Shani appeared in one of the villager’s dream. He told the villager that he is ‘Shanidev’ and that unique rock is his form. God said, he does not need a roof and wanted the rock to be kept in the center of the village in an open sky so that he could look after the village.
The strong belief in the above legend of God Shani is so deeply ingrained into the heart of the villagers that they never felt a need in having a security guard and neither do the houses and shops in the village have any doors and locks. For them, the living temple of God Shani is the real guardian or protector of the village. Sounds unbelievable, but it’s very true.
Apart from this, there are other facts about the village.
1. People keep their jewellery, money, and other expensive things in the open without any fear and security.
2. There is no incidence of theft, riot, or any other crime in the village.
3. People also never ask their neighbours to look after their house when they are out of the village or town.
4. Until September 2015, there was no police station in the village.
5. In 2011, UCO Bank opened here in the village. It is also one-of-its-kind thanks to the lockless branch
6. There is no alcohol and gambling seen in this village.
7. All people live in harmony and peace.
8. Even the Shani temple is open without any roof and there is no pandit in the temple. People worship on their own.
9. For long, women were not allowed to enter the temple and do worship. But after a long protest and movement by women, they have been given every right to enter the temple.
10. The village and its temple are very popular not only in India, but also worldwide. Every year, almost 30,000 to 40,000 devotees come to this temple to pour oil on the idol of God Shani and seek his blessings.