Nick Carter / CC-BY-2.0

In remote Shani Shinganapur, in western India, homes lack front doors and merchants never lock their shops. As is the case in many cultures, the logic of life is explained with a story.

BBC explains:

Legend has it that about 300 years ago, after a bout of rain and flooding, a heavy black slab of rock was found washed up on the shores of the Panasnala River, which once flowed through the village. When locals touched the 1.5m boulder with a stick, blood started oozing out of it.

Later that night, Shani appeared in the dreams of the village head, revealing that the slab was his own idol. The deity ordered that the slab should be kept in the village, where he would reside from here on. But Shani had one condition: the rock and its colossal powers must not be sheltered as he needed to be able to oversee the village without hindrance. Shani then blessed the leader and promised to protect the village from danger.

After the villagers installed the huge slab on a roofless platform in the heart of town, they decided to discard all doors and locks. They didn’t need them anymore, not with the Lord to watch over them.

Whether or not the villagers “believe” these stories may be beside the point, which is that the villagers have found a way of peacefully coexisting.

The BBC continues:

This tradition has continued for generations. Locals occasionally lean wooden panels against their front door frames to keep stray dogs out — but they have no permanent doors, and leave their jewellery and money unsecured, firmly believing that their holy guardian will protect them from any mishap. Even the public toilets in the village square just have a thin curtain at the entrance for privacy.

New constructions have to honour these protocols, too. The police station — which only opened in September 2015 and has not yet received a single complaint from the villagers — has no front door; while the United Commercial Bank opened India’s first “lockless” branch in Shani Shingnapur in 2011, installing a glass entrance in the spirit of transparency and a barely visible remote-controlled electromagnetic lock in respect of the villagers’ beliefs.

Locals are so nonchalant that they don’t even ask their neighbours to watch over their house while they are out of town. They believe that thieves will immediately be punished with blindness, and anyone dishonest will face seven-and-a-half years of bad luck. In fact, local lore says that when one villager installed wooden panes at the entrance of his house, he had a car accident the very next day.

Continue reading and see pictures of Shani Shinganapur here.

—Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.

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