A Doorless Village
In this age of computerised alarm systems, it may sound incredible that there exists a village in Odisha which does not have any locks or locking systems. What is more surprising is the fact that not only are locks absent, but even the houses have no doors at all.
The tiny village of Sialia, under Rajkanika block in Kendrapara district of Odisha, may look deceptively simple to a casual traveller, who would perhaps never suspect that the village is the only one of its kind. This village, spread over an area of 120 hectares, consists of 150 houses and is known as the ‘doorless village’. It is mostly inhabited by farmers and businessmen, though there are a smattering of people of other professions too.
As one passes through the village, all houses have one thing in common i.e. they are all without any doors. Asked about the practice of not having doors, Sridhar Sahoo says, “As the village deity Kharakhai Thakurani is installed on a door, houses in Sialia have no doors.”
For years, Sialia has aroused curiosity of hundreds of people. “Our village is guarded by our deity and no theft has ever been reported in Sialia. Three decades back, one Sabhu Behera committed theft, but he died within a month,” said Sridhar Mallick, a resident of the village.
Though thefts take place in all the adjoining villages, not a single case has been reported from Sialia. The Officer-in-Charge of Rajkanika police station, Bijaya Mallick, checks his registers dating back to 1956 to back up the claim. He says: “Look at all our books. As old as they are, not a single case of theft from Sialia has been registered.”
“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 theft in our village. Ask any of the residents, there has never been a case of robbery, so well-protected are the villagers by the deity Kharakhai Thakurani”, said Satrughan Pradhan, a retired school teacher of Sialia.
Even the 60-year-old primary school in the village does not have doors. Ten years back, the government constructed a community centre in the village, that too without any door, respecting the tradition of the village. Octogenarian Nityananda Swain recalled the 40-year-old incident when one Sagar Sahoo had constructed a thatched house with doors, his two sons died under mysterious circumstances in quick succession within a couple months of the construction
“It is less expensive to build a house with no doors as the price of timber has skyrocketed in the recent times,” quipped Haramahan Sahoo, a school teacher of the village.
“In fact, even when many families go away on annual pilgrimages and the houses remain entirely deserted, the possessions left behind in the house are quite safe,” said Sarat Sahoo, a villager.
Bowing to local religious sentiments, the authorities constructed an Anganwadi centre last year without doors. “There is no lock on the Anganwadi centre’s main entrance, with rice, dal, medicines, baby food and other important documents kept inside”, said Gita Sahoo, an Anganwadi worker of the village.
“The centre has desks, benches, alamirahs, clocks, brass bells, rice, dal and other utensils to prepare midday meal. To respect the village tradition, the centre has also no doors. But we have not faced any theft incident in our school”, said Anadi Sahoo, a teacher.
In the 21st century, a village sans doors due to religious belief is a curious phenomenon that, perhaps, only India can offer. Each year, this unique doorless village attracts many curious people to Sialia.
By Ashis Senapati from Kendrapara