India: Devotees pray for motorcycle 'blessings'

  • 2 May 2014
Bullet Raja motorcycle
Image caption The motorcycle is now kept in a glass case at the roadside shrine

People are visiting a roadside shrine in north-western India to pray to a motorbike called Bullet Raja, which is believed to protect drivers, it seems.

Devotees come to the Royal Enfield Bullet motorcycle in the Rajasthan village of Bandayi to pray for a safe journey, News18 Rajasthan reports. "I have come to this place many times," one worshipper says. "Whenever I cross this temple I get down to take blessing from Om Banna to have a safe journey ahead."

In 1988, a young man called Om Banna was reportedly killed when his 350cc motorcycle hit a tree. Locals say the bike kept returning to the scene of the accident by itself, even after a police officer took it to India's northern state of Punjab. Some people believe the motorcycle possesses supernatural powers - one man told News18 the spirit of Om Banna gave him 20,000 rupees (£200).

The motorcycle is on display in a glass box, decorated with flower garlands. People also pray at the tree where the fatal accident happened. One UK-based traveller has even set up a Tripadvisor page for the shrine, noting it was a lucky spot for his party - they found a camera lost earlier on the trip.

Roadside shrines are not unusual in India, but they are sometimes blamed by authorities for causing traffic bottlenecks. In 2009, India's Supreme Court halted the building of religious sites on public land, but it did not affect existing roadside holy places. One such shrine, built in the middle of the road, was a communal flashpoint, The Times of India reported at the time.

Image caption The British-designed Royal Enfield Bullet was first built in the 1930s, and has been made in India since 1948

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