Shani Shingnapur is a captivating tale originating from the Maharashtra state in India. The villagers residing in this region defy conventional security measures, driven by their unwavering faith in Lord Shani, the revered deity associated with Saturn, who serves as the community’s steadfast guardian.
|Villagers do not feel unsafe having no doors on their homes (Credit: Swati Jain)|
According to ancient folklore, approximately three centuries ago, following a period of rainfall and subsequent flooding, an intriguing black slab of rock measuring 1.5 meters was discovered on the riverbanks of the Panasnala River that previously traversed the village. Curiosity led the local inhabitants to cautiously touch the enigmatic boulder with a stick, only to witness blood mysteriously seeping from its surface.
According to BBC, later that night, Shani manifested in the dreams of the village head, disclosing that the slab was indeed his own deity. Shani instructed that the slab be placed within the village, as his permanent abode henceforth. However, Shani conveyed one stipulation: the rock and its tremendous powers must not be enclosed, as he required unimpeded visibility to watch over the village. In response, Shani bestowed his blessings upon the leader and pledged to safeguard the village from any perils.
After the residents of the village successfully installed a large stone slab on an open platform in the center of town, they made the collective decision to eliminate all doors and locks. With the presence of the Lord constantly looking out for them, such security measures were no longer necessary.
While Shani Shingnapur has enjoyed a longstanding reputation of being devoid of thefts, there have been isolated incidents that have marred this image. In 2010, a visitor reported the theft of cash and valuables amounting to 35,000 rupees from his vehicle. Similarly, in 2011, gold ornaments worth 70,000 rupees were reported stolen. However, the charges were ultimately dismissed as the villagers maintained that these incidents occurred outside the village boundaries.
Critics contend that the relatively low crime rate within the village can be attributed to its secluded location, rather than the alleged supernatural abilities of its ruler.
In light of evolving times, certain members of the village have begun questioning a long-standing tradition. They are now approaching the gram-panchayat, the local self-government organization, for authorization to install doors and locks to safeguard their families.
Many residents of Shani Shingnapur village express their optimistic desire to maintain the tradition of Shani’s protection against any malevolent forces for future generations.
Exploring India: A Look at its Unique Cultures and Interesting Facts
|The village of Mawsynram, claiming to have the highest average rainfall on Earth. Perched atop a ridge in the Khasi Hills of India’s northeast, the village receives 467 inches of rain per year – thirteen times that of Seattle. The heavy rainfall is due to summer air currents sweeping over the steaming floodplains of Bangladesh, gathering moisture as they move north. When the resulting clouds hit the steep hills of Meghalaya they are “squeezed” through the narrowed gap in the atmosphere and compressed to the stage they can no longer hold their moisture, causing the near constant rain the village is famous for. Photo: Amos Chapple / The Alantic|
|More than 1,200 km from mainland India and just 140 km from Sumatra at the nearest, the North Sentinel Island found at the west of the Andaman Islands is a mere 72 square kilometres, roughly twenty percent bigger than the area of Manhattan. There is not much information available about the island outside of aerial photographs and the accounts of anthropologist TN Pandit. It is known that in 1880, government worker, Maurice Vidal Portman arrived on the island. Based on his account, there were a number of pathways as well as some deserted villages there. However the status of the island is technically in a state of oblivion as there was no treaty with the Sentinelese in which they would give up their sovereignty, thus practically it is an autonomous region of India. Photo: Christian Caron/Creative Commons|
|The Holi Festival of Colors in India is a celebration of the victory of good over evil, the destruction of the demoness Holika. It is celebrated every year on the day after the full moon in the Hindu month of Phalguna which is early March. People celebrate the start of spring and other events in the Hindu religion; they march the streets and spray people with colored powders while dancing and singing. Photo: Poras Chaudhary/Smithsonian|
The Festival is rooted in the Hindu legend of Holika, a female demon and sister of the demon Hiranyakashayap. According to the belief, Hiranyakashayap was the all-powerful ruler of the universe, surpassing even the gods. However, his son Prahlad defied his mother’s wishes and devoted himself to Lord Vishnu. In response, Hiranyakashayap joined forces with Holika in an attempt to kill Prahlad.
Prahlad managed to evade his destined fate through the intervention of Vishnu, while Holka tragically perished in the midst of the inferno. Subsequently, Vishnu exacted retribution by terminating the lives of Prahlad and his mother, ascending to the position of King. This tale serves as a reminder that goodness inevitably triumphs over malevolence.
The festival of colors, also known as Holi, finds its origins in the delightful childhood episodes of Lord Krishna. Lord Krishna, the reincarnation of Lord Vishnu, would mischievously splash water and apply vibrant colors on the girls of his village.
The festival of Holi holds immense cultural significance in Hindu Culture. It symbolizes a fresh start, marking the end of conflicts and providing an opportunity for people to forget and forgive past mistakes. It is often a day when individuals settle their debts and extend forgiveness, embracing new opportunities and agreements in their lives.
|The practice of eating food with the hands dates back centuries. In Indian culture, this practice is founded upon Ayurvedic teachings. The Vedic people believed that hands hold power and that our bodies have a sacred connection with nature. In Ayurvedic text you will find that each finger represents five different elements. The thumb, index finger, middle finger, ring finger and pinky represent space, air, fire, water and earth respectively. That is why Mudras, symbolic and ritualistic gestures used in prayer or spiritual practices like Yoga, are performed with the hands and fingers. Photo: Alamy|
Eating with one’s hands is a customary practice that holds deeper significance in Indian culture. By bringing the fingers together to touch, individuals enhance their awareness of taste and establish a tangible connection with the food. This unique approach to dining is considered to be both a physical and spiritual experience, reflecting reverence for nature and the nourishment it provides.
In northern India, it is common to eat liquid dishes such as dal and grains like rice using a spoon. On the other hand, in the southern region, it is customary for most people to eat their meals, including rice, using their hands directly from a banana leaf.
|The Samrat Yantra in Jaipur is part of the Jantar Mantar (translation: instruments for calculation), a Big Collection of 14 devices built for measuring time, for astronomy, and for astrology, in the 18th century. Historical accounts say that, in 1719, Mogul emperor Mohammad Shah was leaving on an expedition. But the planets, weren’t in the “right” spots in the night sky. This misalignment due to failed predictions spurred Maharajah Sawai Jai Singh II to build a series of observatories. When Singh decided to move and found a new city (what would be Jaipur) in a nearby valley, he also had a new observatory built there. Photo: Marcin Białek/Wikimedia|
The Big Sundial stands at an impressive height of 27 meters (90 feet). Its massive size allows its shadow to gracefully move at a speed of 1 millimeter per second. Observing this remarkable spectacle, you will witness the sundial’s shadow glide a distance of 6 centimeters (approximately 2 1/3 inches) with each passing minute.
In addition to the other instruments at the Jantar Mantar, the Samrat Yantra is a stationary device. It features a face that is tilted at a precise angle of 27 degrees, representing the latitude of Jaipur. A small cupola adorns its top, serving various purposes in Hindu traditions such as the announcement of eclipses and predicting weather events like the onset of monsoons.
|Derived from the Hindi word champu, which in turn evolved from the Sanskrit word chapyathi, the word essentially means ‘to massage or press’. The practice of using shampoo dates back to 1500 AD when a concoction of boiled reetha (soap berries), amla (gooseberry), hibiscus, shikakai (Acacia) and other hair friendly herbs, was made and used on the scalp to healthify and cleanse the tresses. Photo: Thermo Fisher Scientific|
|It is also a sacred animal for the majority Hindu community, and they amble unmolested in traffic-choked streets. The animal is worshipped and decorated during festivals; holy men take around cows, with their foreheads smeared in vermillion, to seek alms. There is even a journal called Indian Cow; and a Love 4 Cow Trust to “propagate and promote love” for cows. A right-wing Hindu organisation has actually launched cosmetics using cow urine and dung, BBC reported. Photo: Getty Images|