"Keep working on a plan. Make no little plans. Make the biggest you can think of, and spend the rest of your life carrying it out." Harry S. Truman

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Our Life in India : A Motorcycle Pooja

A little while ago, we had the privilege of taking part in a pooja, thanks to our friends who recently bought a motorcycle. 

A car or a motorcycle (or any type of machine, in fact) pooja, is a Hindu ritual that involves blessing said machine, and basically asking God for its protection.

So, we went to the colorful temple dedicated to the Goddess, Durga.

First, we had to buy the offerings.
Of course, we attracted our share of attention.

Coconuts, flower garlands, incense sticks, lemons, betel leaves...

On the side, was the barbers' shop.

Some Hindu rituals involve shaving the head - do you see the hair next to the green bucket?
The mobile phone is very useful to pass the time, in between clients (below).

The tools of the trade

This gentleman is checking his beautiful mustache in a mirror
(my husband took this fantastic picture, and I was warned to give due credit to the artist, so there.)

Time to go inside the temple. We took off our shoes, and washed our feet, although I'm not sure how useful that was, as we had to walk barefoot to the entrance of the temple, a good fifty meters away.

As cameras are not allowed inside the temple, we could not document that part of the ritual. We saluted the Goddess, inside, and were given holy water by a priest, out of a small, deep and round silver spoon. I saw other people bring the water to their mouth and forehead, before they sprinkled it on their head. I did the same (careful not to drink it, though) and ended up with water all over my clothes.
Our friend Torsten broke a coconut, and out we went. We'd bought some red cotton string (Kalava in Sanskrit) and tied them up to each other's wrists.

Unfortunately, the red cotton gives color - as I soon realized when red stains appeared all over my kids' clothes. I still have mine, though, and a red ring on my skin, underneath, although it's fading away.

It was then time to prepare the motorcycle.

Finally, all the motorcycles were ready for the priest's blessing.

The priest asked our friend's name and recited some mantras while drawing sacred symbols on the motorcycle with the powder and paste he carried in the containers below : most likely turmeric, and sandalwood paste. If I'm mistaken, please, don't sue - just let me know, and correct me. :)

Then, Torsten had to make three circles, clockwise, with a coconut, and break it on the ground, before sprinkling the tire with its water.

Our neighbors were doing a car puja, and they broke a pumpkin.

Here is the blessed motorcycle.

Torsten could now ride it, and his first guest was our daughter.

Thanks to my husband and Kathrine for letting me use some of their pictures. And thanks to our friends for allowing us to partake in this lovely ceremony.


Nandini said...

What beautiful pictures, Katia! I feel like I've just been to India. Do you know they do the same pooja at our local temple in Massachusetts? My husband wanted to take his '91 Lotus Esprit to have it blessed, more for the fun of showing off his race car than any belief in the protective properties of the pooja. And also, did you know that many celebrities here have Indian 'temple hair' extensions??

Katia said...

Nandini, you should do the pooja on the car and take pictures :) As for temple hair extensions, I'm not surprised. Indian people have the most gorgeous hair... It's quite a business, isn't it?