In This Village, Nobody has Front Doors. Not Even the Bank.

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In This Village, Nobody has Front Doors. Not Even the Bank.

A family gathers outside their house in Shani Shignapur village in Ahmednagar, Maharashtra. (Agence France-Presse photo)

Shani Shingnapur:  Members of the Gade family proudly show off a stash of rupees kept in an unlocked tin barrel in their bedroom, despite their home not having a front door.

In Shani Shingnapur village in Maharashtra, residents see little need for such security, thanks to their belief in special protection from the Hindu deity Shani.

As farmers trundle the roads in bullock carts piled high with sugarcane, they pass rows of homes bearing empty door frames -- a village tradition that goes back for generations.

"Years ago, Shani came in the dreams of devotees and told them you don't need to put any doors on your homes," housewife Jayashree Gade told news agency AFP.

"He said: 'I will protect you'. That's why we don't have any doors."

According to legend, an iron and stone slab washed up in a nearby river during a flood more than 300 years ago, and began oozing blood when cattle herders poked it with a stick.

In a vision to a villager later that night, the slab was revealed to be an idol of Shani, and today it stands in an open square adorned with garlands of flowers, drawing crowds of pilgrims.

Shani, who is believed to be manifested in the planet Saturn, is considered so mighty that his shrine cannot be kept under a shelter -- and he will not let thieves in the village of open homes go unpunished.

Some villagers said they put loose panels against their door frames at night, but only to keep out wild animals.

Similarly, the local branch of state-owned UCO Bank prides itself on its "lockless" status. Although money is kept in a strongroom, the front of the building has just a glass door with no lock, to avert stray dogs.


"We have no trouble," said bank official Nagender Sehrawat, gesturing to the queue of customers when asked if they were happy with the arrangement.

Shani Shingnapur's reputation has been somewhat dented in recent years by reports of a few thefts. In 2010, a visitor from the North complained that cash and valuables worth 35,000 rupees  were taken from a vehicle.

According to a pamphlet handed out at the shrine, Shani Shingnapur is not just free from theft but from all sinful behaviour, a "model village" in contrast to the corrupt outside world.

"Professional robbers, thieves, dacoits, non-vegetarians, drunkards, never come here," the pamphlet confidently stated.
"If they come, they behave like gentlemen."



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