There is a small village in Maharashtra called Shani Shingnapur, where there are no front doors to protect the homes from the robbery. What’s more surprising is that even the bank which is located in this village has no front door. In this modern age where crimes are reported every second, and there’s so much of mutual hatred around, this village is a sweet surprise and truly has a big message for humanity. This small village which is home to around 5000 people is full of life, and people here trust each other as if they all belong to one big family.
It is believed by the villagers that Hindu deity Lord Shani protects their village and if someone tries to steal from the homes of this village which have no front door, Lord Shani will not let that person go unpunished. When asked why the homes in this village have no doors, “Years ago Lord Shani came in the dreams of devotees, he told them not to put any doors on our homes; and he will protect us. That’s why we don’t have doors” says Jayashree Gade.
According to the localities, some 300 years ago the villagers witnessed an iron and stone slab at the nearby river, and when the villagers poked the slab with a stick, they say blood started oozing out. Later that night, in the dreams of a villager the stone slab revealed itself to be Lord Shani, and since then the iron and stone slab is worshiped piously, and it has been almost 300 years since the homes of Shani Shingnapur have done away with doors to protect their homes.
The villagers believe that the Lord is so powerful that the culprit who tries to steal will be punished for his bad deeds and even though he keeps walking all night thinking that he has left the village, he will still be there in the village when the sun rises. Though there are homes in the village which put on loose panels against room frames at night, it is done just to make sure that wild animals are kept at bay.
Jayashree Gade, a housewife, proudly shows a pile of Indian National Rupees being stacked by her family in an open barrel in their bedroom, even though the house has no front doors. The best thing about this village is that even the banks which operate in this village follow the custom and as a result have no front doors. The state-owned UCO Bank itself is on ‘lockless’ status and is probably this is the only village in the country which can boast of having a bank without a front door. The bank has a glass door without a lock, which is being installed with the sole purpose to avert stray dogs.
Shani Shingnapur received the much-needed limelight when the village featured in one of the devotional Hindi movies which was based on Lord Shani of the village. Since then the village has turned into a tourist spot, and the village has taken the shape of a small bustling town.
Shyam Banker, one of the trustees of Lord Shani Temple says, the world got to know about the village through the movie, and the people came to know that there is a place called Shani Shingnapur where there are homes but no doors, there are trees but no shades and there are gods but no temple. He says since the village was featured in a movie, tourists and devotees have started pouring into the village from all over India and also the world.
The villagers can be seen flocking the streets with stalls to sell souvenirs and flowers to the religious tourists. The villagers also hand out pamphlets near the shrine which says ‘Shani Shingnapur is not only free from theft but also from all sinful activities and hence is a model village to the world.’ It says the village is in complete contrast to the outside corrupt world. The pamphlets also proudly state that professional robbers, thieves, dacoits, non-vegetarians, drunkards never come to this village which is protected by Hindu deity Lord Shani. Even if they do come to this village, they start behaving like a gentleman, reads the last few lines written on the pamphlet.
Amit Sharma, a hotel manager by profession, is greatly moved by the site he has witnessed in the village. After paying respect to the Lord of the village Sharma says, there is something very special about this Lord. He is the guardian of this place.
Even though the villagers still believe that Lord Shani protects their homes, they say that the continued safety of the village is in the hands of people who inhabit it. They are of the view that as long as all the villagers keep their faith in Lord Shani and as long as the hearts of villagers are connected to one another, their village will remain crime free.