Shani dev (Sanskrit: शनि, Śani) is one of the Navagraha (the nine primary celestial beings in Hindu astrology) of Jyotiṣa. Shani dev is embodied in the planet Saturn and is the Lord of Saturday. Shani dev is also known as Śanaiścara (शनैश्चर).
The word shani also denotes the seventh day or Saturday in most Indian languages. The word shani (शनि) comes from Śanayē Kramati Saḥ (शनये क्रमति सः), the one who moves slowly, because Saturn takes about 30 years to revolve around the Sun.
Shani is a Deva and son of Surya and his wife Chhaya, hence also known as Chayyaputra. He is the elder brother of Yama, the Hindu god of death, who in some scriptures corresponds to the deliverance of justice. Surya’s two sons Shani dev and Yama judge. Shani dev gives the results of one’s deeds through one’s life through appropriate punishments and rewards; Yama grants the results of one’s deeds after death.
It is said that when Shani dev opened his eyes as a baby for the very first time, the sun went into an eclipse, which clearly denotes the impact of Shani dev on astrological charts. He is depicted dark in colour, clothed in black; holding a sword, arrows and two daggers and mounted on a crow, which is Shani’s vāhana. As protector of property, Shani dev is able to repress the thieving tendencies of birds.
Shani Jayanti the birth anniversary of Lord Shani falls on the Amavasya of Jyeshta month of Hindu calendar.
Shani dev, along with the goddess Jyestha, the god Yama, and the goddess Nirrti, are associated with the crow in Hindu mythology. Throughout Hindu mythology crows represent harmful and inauspicious characteristics, both of which Shani possesses.
Pray to him for Success
Worship of Shani is done on Saturdays by offering to the god all his favourite items like oil, black cloth, black seeds, mustard oil.
He is known as the greatest teacher and well wisher for the righteous as well the greatest punisher for those who follow the path of evil, betrayal, backstabbing and unjust revenge. Shani is also known as the lord of masses & God of Punishment and his blessings are thus considered very important in an individual’s horoscope for bestowing him with mass following and popularity.
Hindu traditions often include the worship of Shani dev in order to dispel dangerous ghosts and other supernatural beings. Worshipers also perform healing rituals and exorcisms that derive from local and regional folk traditions.
Why it’s considered auspicious to offer mustard oil to Shani Dev on Saturdays?
In Hindu community, there is a ritual to bath the deity of Shani dev in mustard oil and to donate the same on Saturdays. Here goes the legend for why the ritual is performed:
As per Hindu Epic Ramayana, when the bridge was constructed from Rameswaram to Lanka by Rama’s army, Hanumana had the responsibility of looking after the security of bridge lest the enemy damage it. One day Hanumana sat under the tree, offering prayer to Rama. Meanwhile, Shanidev went there and said to Hanumana, “I am the powerful God Shani dev. I heard you are also very powerful, so I want to test your might with me. Open your eyes and fight with me.”
In response to Shani dev, Hanumana opened his eyes & said, “I am meditating upon my lord. I request you to don’t disturb me in my prayer & leave me alone.”
But Shani dev was stable on picking a fight. At the same time, Hanumana stretched out his tail and started binding it around Shani dev. Slowly, he tightened the coiled tail. Shani dev tried to free himself but he could not. Hanumana moved his tail up & down hitting him against the stone of bridge. Shanidev started bleeding.
When the pain was unbearable, Shani requested to him, “Release me. I will never do a similar mistake again.” Hanumana replied, “If you promise me that you shall never afflict Rama’s devotees then I will let you go.”
In great pain, Shani dev promised to Hanumana, “I will do as you say, I will never interfere in the destiny of those devoted to you & Rama.”
When Shani dev became free, he asked to Hanumana, “Could you give me some oil to relieve my wretched pain.” Then Hanumana gave the oil to Shani dev, after the spread of oil on his body, his pain was relieved immediately.
Since then it is customary to offer oil to Shani dev. It is symbolic of soothing his pain. He feels satisfied and this makes him benevolent towards the devotee.
On this gesture, Shani dev said, “Anyone who will donate Mustard oil on Saturday, I will take away all his/her pains.”