Shani-Shingnapur: A village with zero crime rate

ABOUT THE VILLAGE

Shani Shingnapur is the name of a village in Nevasa taluk in Ahmednagar district of Maharashtra;
the village is known for its popular temple of Lord Shani – Shri Shaneshwar Devasthan Shanishingnapur – the Hindu god associated with the planet Saturn.

The temple is also called as ‘Alive temple’ since the villagers believe that the deity of the temple still resides. The temple is also said to have 30-45,000 visitors every day. While on the no moon day (Amavasya) which is said to be the auspicious day, the temple has about three lakh visitors on that day alone.

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WHAT MAKES THIS VILLAGE DIFFERENT FROM OTHERS?

This is not just another ordinary village of India but it is said to be a unique village that has zero percent crime rate every year. To this day, there are no doors for any houses, shops, temples. It is to be seen to believe that even post office has no door, not to speak of locks. If there are no thefts or robberies taking place, then why is there a need to take any safety measures, such as having doors, right?

In fact, The united commercial bank had its first ‘lockless’ branch opened, taking note of the zero crime rate in the region. But since the central bank of India has made it mandatory for all banks to have high security, the bank does have a door but it always remains open. Therefore, if you were ever to visit the village then don’t be surprised to see houses, post offices, or any other buildings with no doors, let alone locks.

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WHAT IS THE SECRET BEHIND THIS ZERO CRIME RATE OF THE CITY?

Well, if you were looking for a logical solution then I’m sorry to disappoint you because the reason behind the zero crime rate was mainly due to the religious mindset of the villagers.

Although, There is a story on how the temple was established and how the city continued to remain clean with no criminals.

Once, one of the shepherds of the village stumbled upon a unique looking stone and touched it with a pointed rod, the stone started bleeding. The shepherds were astounded. Soon the whole village gathered around to watch the miracle. On that night Lord Shanaishwara appeared in the dream of the most devoted and pious of the shepherds.

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He told the shepherd that he is “Shanaishwara”. He also told that the unique looking black stone is his swayambhu form. The Shepherd prayed and asked the Lord whether he should construct a temple for him. To this, Lord Shani Mahatma said there is no need for a roof as the whole sky is his roof and he preferred to be under the open sky. He asked the shepherd to do daily pooja and ‘Tailabhisheka’ every Saturday without fail. He also promised the whole hamlet will have no fear of dacoits or burglars or thieves.

Therefore to this day, everyone in the village believes that if anyone commits a crime, then they will be punished by the God-Shani. The villagers also said that those who have tried to steal, have died vomiting blood within minutes of their act and before they could even cross the boundary. Many others are said to have received varied punishments such as long sickness, mental imbalance etc.

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“The power of Shani is such that if someone steals, he will keep walking all night and think he has left the village, but when the sun comes up he will still be there,” explained Mill worker Balasaheb Borude.

If I were to think logically then I would say that Belief can make a man do wonders and so can fear. It is a combination of both which is behind the houses in Shani Shingnapur not having doors. The belief of the people of Shani Shingapur that the temple is a living temple and that villagers never need to install doors because the God would always protect them from any kind of danger.

HAVE THERE BEEN NO EXCEPTIONS IN THIS ZERO CRIME RATE OF THE VILLAGE?

Well, yes there has been. In the year 2010, 2011 and 2012 there have been crimes reported.

2010- 35000/- worth items were stolen from a vehicle.

2011- 50000/- worth items were stolen from the house of a retired official who worked for the temple’s trust.

2012- Gold ornaments were stolen from the temple.

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And yet, villagers refuse to have doors or locks to their houses. The crime rate seems to be picking up minutely with years passing by, but no one can tell how long this ‘zero crime rate’ scenario will sustain. Although it won’t be false if I say that Shani-Shingnapur is quite an interesting place to visit.

-Prakruthi Jain