This is such a common sight in India. Every Saturday, hundreds of men, young and old, dress themselves up in saffron and roam around the streets ‘blessing’ everyone with the power of “Shani Dev” (the God of Saturday). And everyone gives them a few coins, India being in the grip of religion as usual.
I cannot really explain what the tradition so here is an excerpt from Mr. Google!
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 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. 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.
Symbolism and Traditions
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.
Worship of Shani is done on Saturdays by offering to the god all his favourite items like oil, black cloth, black seeds, mustard oil.
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.