Even at the peril of being termed orthodox and superstitious , my faith in destiny and stars remains unshakable. In my childhood , I have seen a turbaned gentleman going from door to door every Saturday , carrying a saucer half filled with mustard oil and in it placed a metal image or pratima of Shanidev , the god wrongly associated with everything sinister and ill-omened so much so that a person with these negative personality traits is referred to as ‘ nira sanichar’.One by one each member of the family was required to put a coin in the oil after moving it over the head thrice , during which time the person carrying the saucer –also known as shanidev- would mumble some mantra - as one looked at his reflection in the oil- to ward off evil designs of some unknown power. Though no one now goes visiting door to door , but one can see persons , even young boys and girls carrying the saucer with the pratima dipped in oil and people like me on sighting one of them faithfully put some coin in the oil.
Here is a real life incident that occurred with me some 18-19 years ago.
I was posted at Palampur and at the bus stop , from where I sometimes boarded the bus ,on Saturdays I never forgot to put a coin in oil whenever a person carrying the saucer was in sight. However, one Saturday , I thought otherwise and bypassed the ‘shanidevta ‘ without bothering to put the coin in oil. The day in the office passed peacefully. When it was time to leave after duty hours,I came out of my room and while passing through the corridor, I perchance pushed the door of an Almirah to close it and in no time , a broken steel chair placed above fell down hitting my forehead. The office staff came running and the chowkidar-God bless him- tore his razai and took out some cotton to press against the wound to stop bleeding. The rationalists may laugh at the idea but I believe it was Shanidev’s curse that fell on me for having ignored the necessary ritual of putting coin in the saucer.
Shani Dev, the son of Surya is believed to be a dispenser of justice and reasonably punishes the wrong doer.