Sunday, June 23, 2013

Shani Dev

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.

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