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Last Updated: Wednesday, 24 November, 2004, 12:09 GMT
Doorless village has no crime
By Sutapa Mukerjee
BBC correspondent in Seemahi-Kari-Raat, Uttar Pradesh

Seemahi-Kari-Raat village
Calamity befalls homes that build doors, villagers say

The lives and property of people in the tiny northern Indian village of Seemahi-Kari-Raat are well protected by the spirit of the ancient saint Sheo Baba.

They have to be. Legend has it that he did not approve of doors.

So none of the 75 houses in the village, close to the temple town of Ayodhya in Uttar Pradesh state, has one.

The most people do for privacy is to hang thick curtains in the doorways, but robberies have been unheard of for a century.

There has never been a case of robbery in our village
Villager Lal Mani Tewari

Lal Mani Tewari, a villager in his 80s, says: "Whenever someone made an attempt at building doors, some calamity befell them.

"It was through such coincidences that we realised the holy man did not approve of doors."

Baba's wish

In the centre of the village, chief priest Triloki Nath Goswami explains the legend of the patron saint.

"It is believed that hundreds of years ago, there lived a saint, Sheo Baba. He took to rigorous penance and sat meditating for days.

"He died while meditating. This banyan tree sprung exactly where he breathed his last. We all believe his spirit still remains in this tree."

The legend says Sheo Baba decreed that no house could be built without some bricks being first offered at his temple and no door should be constructed in any of the houses.

Krishnacharya Triparthi, a resident of the village, said part of his house came down again and again during construction.

Seemahi-Kari-Raat village
The temple at the banyan tree, said to hold Sheo Baba's spirit
"I was then advised by villagers to offer some bricks here under the holy tree. Everything went off smoothly after that.

"But of course, even I have not constructed any doors, because that is Baba's wish."

Lal Mani Tewari says: "A great soul is always a kind soul. Ask any of the residents, there has never been a case of robbery in our village, so well-protected are the villagers by the spirit of Sheo Baba.

"How else can one explain how this village has remained like a crime-free oasis in an otherwise crime-ridden state like Uttar Pradesh?"

Head of the local Akbarpur police station, Gorakh Nath Singh, checks documents back to 1906 to back up the claim: "Look at all our books. As old as they are, not a single case of robbery from Seemahi-Kari-Raat has been registered."

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