Police, volunteers to counter Ranragini Bhumata Brigade at Shani Singhnapur

Ahmednagar: More than 1500 women are planning to enter the Shani Singhnapur Temple here to symbollically break the gender barrier of not being allowed to enter the shrine’s sanctum sanctorum.

The Ranragini Bhumata Brigade has threatened to worship Lord Shani at the sacred platform. To prevent a law and order issue, the police and temple authorities have put up three levels of barricades, deployed women constables and village volunteers to guard the temple.

For over five centuries, the old Shani Temple has had no walls or roof.

A “Swayambhu” that is said to have self emerged from earth in the form of black, imposing stone stands on a platform and is worshipped as Lord Shanidev. The deity dedicated to Lord Shani is a 56-inch black rock pillar located on an open platform and the open sky is its canopy.

The temple platform attracts millions of tourists and devotees from across the country and abroad.

However, according to the trustees, except the temple priests, nobody is permitted to climb the nine steps up to the actual stone idol that represents the deity. The oil can be put only by men as the effect of Shani Dev’s wrath is considered to be less on women.

According to centuries-old beliefs of the villagers, there is no need of man-made security as Lord Shani is the protector.

Hence, the houses of the 3,500-odd villagers don’t have doors or locks. However, in recent times, one sees homes with sliding doors and a bank (which was forbidden earlier) with electronic locking systems.

In January 2011, the United Commercial (UCO) Bank opened a ‘lockless’ branch in the village, the first of its kind in the country, taking note of the near-zero crime rate in the region. The bank has doors, but they will always remain open.

Shani-Shingnapur is located 75 kilometers away from the famous Shirdi pilgrimage centre in the western part of Maharashtra. (ANI)