Shri Shani Mahatmye has 5 chapters or adhyayas. It mainly tells you the story of Raja Vikramaditya of Ujjain who faced serious consequence for abusing Lord Shani. And mentions some examples from Puranas, Mahabharata & Ramayana where many faces difficulties because of Shani dasha on them. Finally everyone in their lifetime will face the wrath of Shani dev, even Mahadev Shiva is not spared. Anyhow by worshiping him in those difficult times, impact can be reduced and thus pass such bad days.
Shani dev is considered the main god/graha among 9 planet lords / Navagrahas. As I was offering him pooja [24th May 2014] with the guidance of our archaka guru / priest, reminded me of the main Shani temples visited - Shani Signapura which is an hour from Shirdi, Maharashtra & Navagraha temple of Ujjain, Madhaya Pradesh.
|Navagraha Temple [Triveni], Ujjain|
|Triveni Sangam [confluence of Gandaki and Shipra rivers, mythical holy Saraswathi believed to be the third]|
As we reached the place and entered the premises, it seemed as though a ceremony or a fair was held which might have seen a very large crowd. Because it was a bit messy around and some staffs had started cleaning early that day. We first went inside the temple and prayed with the 9 lords, who were installed (prathishta) at the direction of the respective lord's are meant to be. Each lords were dressed with the colour of their preference and idols were mostly soaked with gingelly (sesame seed's) oil offered by the devotees.
Then we got reminded of the Triveni sangam ghat (ouch.. we should have visited the sangam before temple darshan :-| hmm.. anyhow..), where confluence of Gandaki river with Shipra (Kshipra) takes place. The third river which meets here is said to be holy mythical river Saraswathi. As we went near, we were completely surprised to see heaps of clothes, footwear/sandals lying around all over the bank of the river at the ghat. A guy was instructing some workers to clean them up with whom we enquired and learned that previous day large number of people gathered as it was special day to visit there (Amavasya/New moon & Shanivaar/Saturday). Devotees who visit the temple take a holy dip in the triveni sangam and leave/dump their clothes, footwear.. !! It's believed that by this, bad omen (graha doshas) will be washed in holy sangam and will be left behind with the clothes !!!
30 June 2012: Shirdi is an overnight journey in bus. It's one of the richest temples in terms of donations it receives in India. Being Sai Baba's birth place, followers from all over the country keep visiting the place and take darshan. Some people do the paada yatra from their place till Shirdi whatever the distance !! Usually in such yatra they travel as a group with a truck/tempo assisting them with water and food. As we reached early morning, checked with a hotel for just to have bath and freshen up for the temple visit. Within a hour we finished the darshan, which was not much of a time as we expected will take and headed to the Signapura town in a cab which was around 73km from Shirdi.
|Shri Shani Maharaj at Signapura|
We had heard that the town was unique and the belief is so strong among the people of that town, the homes/buildings doesn't have any doors !! And yes.. it turned out to be TRUE !! Just a screen was put in every house without any doors, even in the newly constructed ones !!! There were stories.. like if a thief steals something, he'll go through a horrible fate and the stolen items will be returned to the owners somehow. Such incidents are said to have occurred which multiplied the faith in Lord Shani, being a true protector of the people. As all such stories/legends were sinking within us we took the blessings from the lord with crow as his vāhana or Khagesha (lord of the planets) Shri Shani dev. Whatever is the fact, one has to admit.. Belief is everything :-)