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Shani Shingnapur Temple

Shani Shingnapur Temple

Shani Shignapur is a village located in Ahmednagar District of Maharashtra. It is about 35 km from Ahmednagar.The shrine gained popularity with the decade-old film Surya Putra Shanidev made by the film producer Gulshan Kumar.

The presiding deity of Shinganapur, Sri Shaneshwara or Lord Shanidev- the personification of the planet Saturn is worshipped with utmost reverence and devotion by multitudes of people from all over the world. The spectacle of the deity in black stone is overwhelming. A unique aspect of this place is, that no temple structure houses the Shanidev. There is only a simple platform on which stands the swayambhu idol, in black stone.

Unlike other pilgrimage centres, devotees here can perform puja or abhishek or other religious rituals themselves.
One of the unique aspects of the village Shiganapur is that houses here have no door- frames or locks on them for safety. They are in fact not needed. The people here believe that it is the benediction of the god that no crime ever occurs in this village.

The shrine for Shani consists of a five and a half feet high black rock installed on an open-air platform, which symbolizes the god Shani. A Trishula (trident) is placed along the side of the image and a Nandi (bull) image is on the south side. In front are the small images of Shiva and Hanuman.

Generally, the temple has 30–45,000 visitors a day, which swells to around three lakh (i.e. three hundred thousand) on amavasya (the no moon day), believed to be the most auspicious day to appease Shani.The village holds a fair in honour of the deity on this day. A bigger festival is held on new moon days that fall on Saturdays. Devotees bathe Lord Shani's image with water and oil and offer flowers, and udid to him. A palanquin procession of Shani is held on the day of the fair.Other festivals include the birthday of Shani, Shani Jayanti.

Legend of Shanidev

Suryadev(son of Brahma) and Sandna (the daugther of Daksha Prajapati) were Shri Shaneshwar's parents.

Sandna and Suryadev had two sons Dakshinadhipati Yama and Shri Shaneshwar and four daughters Tapti, Bhadra, Kalindi and Savitri.

Sandna finding it unbearable to live with the harsh glare of Surya's light, created her own replica and named her as Sanvarna and asked her to behave as Surya's wife and perform all the duties and savour the privileges of a wife. She made her promise that under no condition would she reveal to Suryadev that she was not Sandna and promised to help her when needed.

Sandna went back to her father Daksha. When Daksha saw that his daughter coming back, he advised her that she better live with her husband only. The dejected Sandna did not follow her father's advise and instead transformed herself into a mare and resided in the Himalayas and started penance.

Savarna performed the role of dutiful wife. She also gave birth to five sons and two daughters from Surya. Surya did not have any doubts about Sanvarna.

One day Shanidev was very hungry and he asked his mother to give him something to eat. She asked him to wait till she had made her first offering to God. But Shanidev insisted on serving him first and in anger kicked his mother Sanvarna. She in return cursed him that his leg would break.

Shanidev reported the matter to his father Surya. Surya said," a mother would never curse a son like this." Surya observed Sanvarna closely and found that she was not Sandna. Surya was enraged and asked her who she was. Sanvarna confessed that she was a 'shadow' of Sandna. and that Sandna had gone to the Himalaya for penance.

Surya told Shanidev that Sanvarna was like his mother and her curse would not go in vain. It is therefore that Shanidev has one lame leg.

Entry to women

Entrance Gateway of Shani Shingnapur
According to a 400-year tradition, women are restricted from entering the inner sanctum. On 26 January 2016, a group of over 500 women, led by activist Trupti Desai, marched to the temple under the group "Bhumata Ranragani Brigade", demanding entry into the Inner sanctum. They were stopped by the police.

In a landmark judgement on 30 March 2016, the Bombay High Court asked Maharashtra government to ensure that women are not denied entry to any temple. On 8 April 2016, the Shani Shingnapur trust finally allowed the women devotees to enter the sanctum.

Worship

Unlike other places of worship, at the shrine in Shinganapur there are no long queues and no waiting period. Devotees need not even wait for a priest. If needed priests are there on Saturdays and Mondays to offer puja and abhishek.

To worship the Lord Shaneshwara in Shinganapur, a devotee has to take a head bath and proceed in wet clothes to the platform where the swayambhu idol of Shani Maharaj exists. The devotee then circumambulates, offers prayers and performs Abhishek-s with water from the holy well in the vicinity and sesame oil. Sacrificial offerings are not permitted here. Any male devotee can go up to the platform wearing a wet cloth but women are enjoined to offer worship without mounting the platform

There is another well from which water is fetched only for Shani Maharaj's rituals. Women are forbidden to use this well.

Devotees are expected to follow some rules also known as Sanket.

Adequate facilities are available for Shuchirbhuta ritual (bathing and cleansing of the devotees).

The devotee has to be bare headed (without any cap or cloth on the head)while receiving Darshan of the deity.

Devotees pour water on the idol with wet clothes and perform Abhishek. Brahmins are available for Abhishek on Saturday and Monday.

To perform the abhishek a devotee offers Oil, preferably sesame is offered in multiples of quarter, Coconut, dried dates, dried cocount, betel nut, rice, turmeric-kumkum, gulal, neel, sugar, colotropis flowers preferably blue, pedha-s, black cloth, curds and milk etc. used.

A devotee who wishes to avert the misery offers kavadi, bibba, udid, nail, or pin, or rice.

If it is a Abhishek of the Navas (after fulfillment of desires), then money in the form of silver coins,a trident- trishul), shriphal, or iron articles like ghamela or animals like horse, cow, buffalo are offered.

Festivals

Generally the devotees can perform pooja and abhishek on any day at Shari Shaneshvar tirtha. But the Amavasya or the no day moon which falls on a Saturday is considered to be most auspicious. On such a day lakhs of devotees from all corners of the country come to receive blessings of Shri Shanidev. On every Shani Amavasya there is a Yatra.

In Shanishingnapur, everyday, lakhs of devotees of God Shani come for a ‘darshan'. On every Saturday, innumerable devotees come and benefit from the ‘darshan'.

2)Every Shani Amavashya and the Gudi Padava of every year, lakhs of devotees of God Shani visit the Temple.

3) ShriShaneshchar Jayanti, the special day of God Shani's birthday, is celebrated with great gusto and devotion.

4) Every year, from ‘Chaitra Shuddha Dashami' to ‘Chaitrya Vadya Pratipada', continuously, the chanting of God's name and ‘Granthraj Dnyaneshwari Parayan' is performed.

 

 

 

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