‘Donate to Shani, ward off terror’

October 6th, 2008 - 1:43 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Oct 6 (IANS) Some buy their story and some don’t, but with several terror blasts ocurring on a Saturday in the past few months, beggars who demand alms in the name of the Hindu god Shani Dev are doing so with renewed vigour!”May Shani Devta bring you luck this Saturday. May he protect your family from terror’s evil eye!” is a refrain commonly heard from beggars in the capital and even in adjoining areas nowadays.

That’s because the day is traditionally dedicated to this god in India and the lord of Saturn has always been seen as a powerful deity in the Hindu pantheon to ward off evil.

The bombings this year in Ahmedabad and Delhi, all of them on a Saturday, have led to a fear psychosis among the public and the beggars have been quick to seize the opportunity, be it at traffic junctions or temples.

At Ber Sarai in south Delhi, a small group of beggar children Saturday clanked small garlanded pails of steel, with a miniature idol of Shani Devta fixed to the rim.

With less than a minute for the traffic light to turn green at a busy road junction, a little beggar girl yelled in Hindi to a couple in an autorickshaw: “Give in Lord Shani’s name. He will keep the two of you safe! Shani Dev will shield you from blasts.”

Sure enough, the man in the autorickshaw pulled out a Rs.5 coin and dropped it in her pail.

Exactly two weeks after Sep 13, the Saturday when Delhi was rocked by five coordinated blasts in crowded markets, leaving 24 dead and over 100 injured, there was another explosion at Mehrauli in south Delhi that killed two and left 18 injured - again a Saturday.

The July 26 bombings in Ahmedabad that left 56 people dead and nearly 200 injured also took place on a Saturday.

“We beg according to how the public’s mind works,” admitted Kusum Devi, 25, a beggar outside Vinayak Mandir, a popular Hindu temple at Sarojini Nagar here.

“Though outside the temple many give for charity, others donate only at a time of festivity or when they fear the influence of a powerful god like Shani Maharaj.”

“Shani is one of the most popular deities that Hindus worship to ward off evil and remove obstacles, so some people give in his name,” Kusum explained.

Some Hindus believe that Shani rules over people’s destinies at regular intervals of seven-and-a-half years. Those under Shani’s planetary influence tend to pray to him Saturday in temples.

One such devotee, S. Anagha, 32, a homemaker and mother of two, said: “There is a link to the terror attacks being on Saturdays - and I believe that it could perhaps be due to the wrath of Shani devta. Vigilance and checking terror is all well, but prayers are in a way our refuge.

“I light a lamp and give unfailingly in the lord’s name every Saturday because according to my horoscope the planetary movements of Saturn now are not in my favour. I even pray for those who suffered in the terror attacks and hope that such attacks are not repeated,” she added.

This phenomenon has also spread to townships near Delhi.

“If we please the lord of Saturn, he will shield us from all evil. Terror blasts are nothing! Give money and Shani devta will protect you!” said a beggar boy near a roadside eatery on a highway in Karnal, Haryana.

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