A unique religious experience awaits travellers who come to Shani Shignapur, a village about 35 km from Ahmednagar. The presiding deity of the village is Sri Shaneshwara or Lord Shanidev, said to be the personification of planet Saturn. Interestingly, the idol, which is said to be self-manifested, is placed on a simple platform rather than an elaborate temple and devotees can perform the religious rituals themselves. Days dedicated to the god like Saturdays and Amavasyas (no moon) are celebrated with special pomp. The god is believed to be the arbiter of bad luck and hence his worship is a way of appeasing him so that his influence does not bring bad luck to the worshippers. Another interesting fact about this village is that the villagers’ belief in Lord Shani is so strong that they do not have door frames or locks. They believe that no crime can occur here when the lord is their guardian. Even shops are left unlocked.

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