Shani Jayanti is celebrated as Lord Shani’s birthday on the Amavaysa day (No moon day) during Vaishaka month. Shanidev is worshipped as one of the Navgrahas – celestial planet bodies. He is the ruler of the planet Saturn, which has heavy influence on people and is often revered for protection against evil and removal of all doshas and ill effects of the planet in the person’s horoscope.
Lord Shani was born as a son of Lord Surya and Devi Sadnya. Together they had three children – Vaivasthava, Lord Yamraj and a daughter Yamuna devi. However the legend says that Devi Sadnya wanted to leave Lord Surya and offer penance as she was unable to bear the harsh glare of his halo anymore. Fearing that this may anger Lord Surya, Devi Sadnya created a being with her own reflection and named her Chaya. She made her promise to not disclose this secret to anyone and continue performing duties to her husband and children as a devoted wife and a mother. Meanwhile Devi Sadnya went to her father Daksha, who grew angry upon learning his daughter’s deed and asked her to return to her husband immediately. However she went to Himalaya for penance. Meanwhile Chaya gave birth to three more children – Manu, Lord Shani and a Putri named Bhadra. Hence Lord Shani is also revered as Chayaputra among other names. It is said that when Lord Shani was in the womb of Chaya, she was offering rigorous penance to Lord Shiva and was so engrossed that she did not care to touch food or bothered to cover herself from the blazing sun. As a result Lord Shani bears a dark complexion and is also an ardent devotee of Lord Shiva himself.
When Lord Shani was growing up, Chaya once asked him to wait for food as it had to be first offered to gods. Furious Shani kicked his mother, upon which Chaya cursed him that he would have a broken leg. Because of this curse he bears a limp leg. This peculiar characteristic also reflects in one of the saying – Shani Kramati Saha – meaning one who moves slowly. The planet Saturn takes 30 years to revolve around the sun. In vedic astrology, the planetary placements are rendered more importance for any success or failure in life. It is often believed that the miseries and suffering in life are caused as a result of Lord Shani’s displeasure towards oneself and the person may be suffering from Saade-Saati, leading to hindrances in growth, peace and happiness. It occurs when Saturn – the ruling planet of Lord Shani, passes over the birth moon, the twelfth house or second house from it. Since Saturn spends about two and a half years in each house the total ill-effected period is about seven and half years. Various pujas and remedies can be offered which can bring respite and relief from the ill-effects. Lord Shani is also believed to bring good luck in a gradual manner with hard work, discipline and perseverance.
Worship to Lord Shani is done with utmost reverence and faith. Fasting on Shani Jayanti assure their devotees protection against evil and removes obstacles from a person’s life. People visit Shanidev temple offering puja, sesame seeds, black clothes and Telabhishek to Lord Shani. They pray for his blessings and removal of all problems from personal and professional life.