Made a trip in December, 2015 to Shani Shingnapur which has a famous shrine for Shani/Saturn. The idol (see pic) here is a stand-alone, odd-shaped, single black granite piece which is symbolized as Shani. A pole behind has a hanging brass pot with a hole below dripping sesame oil continuously over the stone idol. It’s out in the open with no cover nor roof of any kind.
Dark Blue (Nilanjan-Neela in Sanskrit) is the favored color of Shani, gingely oil is the favored offering and west is his favored direction. Though he’s feared unnecessarily, it’s to the west people migrate to succeed in life, be it in India or the western side of the globe! Metal – iron, is the element for him.
Among the Navagrahas, the 9 planets, Shani is the 7th planet popularly known as Cronus in Greece and Saturn in Italy. Shaniwaar (in Sanskrit) or Saturday is the 7th day or the weekend.
According to astronomy, it’s a slow moving planet and is 9 crore plus miles away from earth with a gravity 95 times that of earth believed to affect human lives though orbiting so far away from earth! It takes Saturn a cycle of 30 years to cover/transit through all the 12 zodiac signs. Hence 1 cycle between 27.5 to 30 yrs and 2 cycles between 57.5 to 60 yrs in a human being’s life are marked milestones where major changes are believed to occur.
Shani is a hard task master, teaching us valuable lessons through life experiences and rewards us generously for our sincere efforts albeit slowly. More on this later.