Shani Shingnapur is a famous temple that is located 65 kilometers away from the main town Shirdi. It is dedicated to the Hindu God Shani Maharaj, associated with the planet Saturn. It is nestled in between a lush village known as Shingnapur, which has peculiar customs associated with it and the locals staying in it. Shani Shingnapur is considered a "Jagrut Devasthan", the deity is considered to be roaming the premises of the temple. The deity is a black stone, which is "Swayambhu", or self-emergent, and has been existent through the Kaliyug.
LOCATION: In the Ahmednagar district
DISTANCE: 74 kilometers from Shirdi temple
A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE SHRINE
If you go within the auspicious temple timings, once or twice you'll always hear the people talking about the emergent story of the deity.
Some day back in history, a Shepherd had stumbled upon this huge black stone. He touched it with the pointed shaft he was holding and henceforth the monolith started bleeding.
It was a miraculous thing happening and all the villagers and other shepherds had assembled there to watch this phenomenon. In the dreams of most of the people, Shanaischara had appeared.
The deity introduced itself as Shani to the Shepherd who had originally come upon the monolith. Shanaischara also notified that the monolith was his "Swayambhu" form. The Shepherd was very gratified and hence he asks whether a temple should be built in his worship. The deity said that premises could be built, but he'd rather prefer to be worshipped under the sky, as the sky is the only roof he has. He also made sure that the residents had nothing to fear as he was taking charge of the village.
THE LEGEND OF SHINGNAPUR
Shani Shingnapur is associated with so many miracles that the list has been proclaimed by the Guinness Book of World Records. One such is associated with the town of Shingnapur.
The town has a peculiar customary tradition that it doesn't have any doors and locks. Houses remain open all the time. Even the shops have no shopkeeper. The things are just arrayed in front of the customers to choose during the temple timings and the money box is also left in the open for the people to pay and take the necessary change. Most toilets have no doors, only the women toilets have curtains for the privacy of women. The jewelry and money are all left without any locks. In 2011, the UCO Bank opened the first lockless bank in the village
The legend has something to do with the Jagrut Devasthan. The deity is considered to be wandering on the premises of the temple and also the village. He is the guardian deity of the village. That is also one of the reasons the deity is kept in the open without any roofs so that he can keep an eye on the village.
The people are basically always in dread of the deity. They are in the vigilance of the supreme commander of Justice. He is supposed to be associating the humans with their karma. He begets good to good people and evil to evil people. It is rumored that people face the wrath of the deity in the form of his Sade Sati, a seven and a half year of misfortune associated with the astrological advancement of Shani or Saturn in one's astrological sign. The Sade Sati comes as a blow to the integrity of humans, destroying their lives and sometimes actually uprooting it deeply.
The crime rate in the village is pretty low all the time. There is a police station(without doors, just a sliding door, to prevent stray animals from entering). The crimes of theft have been reported long back in 2010 and in 2011, which were petty and insubstantial.
Although one of the fair enough points for the low crime rate is its remoteness from the proximity of the evil population. And hence it may be a point that the entire doorless story is a good way to sell tourism. It has also been said that no one from the outside is capable of stealing and leaving the village. He'll be caught and punished well in time. During the temple timings, the huge amount of people ensures a crime-free zone.
THE TEMPLE TIMINGS
The shrine is thronged by thousands of devotees each day. The timings of the temple are from 12 AM to 12 PM each day.
The place is hard to step on Saturdays. Also, the day of Shani Trayodashi is considered to be very auspicious. The Saturday of a new moon(Amavasya) is also considered to be very auspicious.
People come here for normal darshan on usual Saturdays and mostly on the auspicious days of worship. Shani abhishekam is also done on all days.
There are some basic laws though. Only men are allowed to walk around or come near the shrine. One must not have anything over the head, like caps, mufflers or scarves. One is expected to carry something black. The devotee should take a head bath and then come near the shrine in wet clothes. Water for worship is collected from the holy well. People are also expected to bathe the shrine in sesame oil.
Earlier women were not allowed to come near the shrine though they were allowed for darshans and abhishekams. On 26th January 2016, a group of women led by Teupti Desai marched into the premises and demanded the rights of women to worship near the shrine. The Bombay High Court decision came on 30th March 2016 and henceforth women were given the equal status of worship.
The shrine is a huge black color, five and a half feet monolith. It is roofless, under the sky, the only roof that would be preferred by Shani. There is trident just nearby him and a brass pot always hangs over his head that drops all the oil that the devotees want to pour. In the front are small shrines of Shiva and Hanuman. The shrine is near the base for Nandi.
There is an average footfall of 60000 which may go up to 200000 on Amavasya. There is a fair organized each Trayodashi in honor of the deity.