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Shani Shingnapur, Maharashtra

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Shani Shingnapur, Maharashtra – An Introduction

Shingnapur or Shani Shingnapur is a village in the state of Maharashtra, where the very famous temple for Shani Dev exists. Planet Saturn is known as Shani, who is regarded as an important member of the Nava Grahas, the nine planets in the Solar family. Shani is a powerful planet and can be considered as perhaps the most feared of all the planets. Shani is the only planet who is termed as an Ishwara, the Great Lord, a title given only to Lord Shiva, and is hence addressed as Shanishwara. This reflects the power that the Graha wields and the respect he commands. This Shani temple is located in the Shingnapur village in the Ahmednagar district of Maharashtra, about 70 kilometres from the temple town of Shirdi.

Shani Shingnapur

Legend of Shani Shingnapur

Lord Shanishwara of Shingnapur is believed to belong to time immemorial. His idol is also said to be Swayambhu, one that appeared on its own and existing since the Kali Yuga. The mythology that prevails regarding his appearance is quite interesting.

Long ago, some shepherd boys of a village in this area found a big, black stone in a field. When one of them touched it with a sharp stick, blood began oozing out of the stone. The boys were scared beyond words and soon the entire village came there to witness the unbelievable happening.

That night the most pious shepherd of the village had a dream in which Lord Shanishwara appeared, identified himself and told him that it is he who has appeared there as a Swayambhu stone. The Lord also told the overwhelmed boy that there is no need for building any temple for him as such, as he would prefer to stay in the open, with the sky itself as his vast roof. He also advised the boy to do puja to him daily and undertake Thylabhisheka, that is, soaking him in oil on every Shanivar, Saturday that is dedicated to him. Shani Dev also promised that he will be the guardian deity of the location and its people, and that they will be fully protected from thieves and dacoits.

That night the most pious shepherd of the village had a dream in which Lord Shanishwara appeared, identified himself and told him that it is he who has appeared there as a Swayambhu stone. The Lord also told the overwhelmed boy that there is no need for building any temple for him as such, as he would prefer to stay in the open, with the sky itself as his vast roof. He also advised the boy to do puja to him daily and undertake Thylabhisheka, that is, soaking him in oil on every Shanivar, Saturday that is dedicated to him. Shani Dev also promised that he will be the guardian deity of the location and its people, and that they will be fully protected from thieves and dacoits.Thus Shanishwara is enshrined in the roofless temple in Shingnapur, in his stone form, in the middle of a large open courtyard. And true to his word, he remains a very effective guardian of the people there, even to this day. This is borne out by the strange fact that the village of Shingnapur and the surroundings do not have any doors for any of their homes, shops, and establishments, including the post office. People here repose such a strong faith in the promise made by the Lord and are so devoid of fear of any form of heist, that they live even without the botheration of having the protective doors for their houses and shops. It is true that very rarely one or two thefts have happened in the area a few years ago, but it is said that those who indulged in the acts either lost their lives before crossing the boundary of the place or faced strong punishments in the form of serious illnesses.

Shani Shingnapur Temple Worship

Shani Dev appears in this temple as a black rock of about 5 ½ feet high and is installed in open air, on a raised platform. A trident is by his side, while an image of Nandi is nearby, to the south. There are also small idols of Shiva and Hanuman close by.

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Devotees in large numbers pray to Shani Dev here, bathing the stone idol with water and oil, predominantly sesame oil. They also make offerings like flowers, coconut, milk, dried dates etc. and circumambulate the platform. Some take head bath in the temple tank nearby and offer worship in wet clothes. While more than 30,000 devotees visit this temple daily, the number runs to lakhs on Saturdays and Amavasya, the new Moon days. Shani Jayanthi, the day of birth also attracts a lot of pilgrims. A grand fair is also held on Amavasya, when a palanquin procession is also held. It is firmly believed that worshipping Lord Shanishwara can remove or lessen the ill effects of the unfavourable placement and movement of the planet and provide relief.