Photo Essay: A Puja for My New Car

An American Hindu describes the ritual for blessing a vehicle.

A car puja is a Hindu ceremony blessing an automobile to keep it from bad influences and to bless it in God's name. Hindus often perform pujas for items used in daily life: houses, motor vehicles, and sometimes home appliances. People try to do the puja before using the item, or as soon as possible after purchase. Puja details may vary from pujari (Hindu priest) to pujari, but the 15-minute ceremony performed for my car was fairly typical.



Pre-puja,

I washed my 2003 Toyota Matrix. Later, outside my Hindu temple, the pujari and several of my friends gathered for the ceremony.






Step 1:

The first thing I did was accept holy water into my right hand and wash my hands for the puja. This was repeated three times. In temples it is a rule to accept things with the right hand, placing your left hand under it.







Step 2:

For three repetitions, I accepted rice from the pujari to sprinkle onto the front of the car.









Step 3:

Using turmeric powder mixed with water, the pujari drew a swastika on the car with the third finger of his right hand (an auspicious finger). It does not stain the car. It can also be drawn with sandalwood paste.



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For Hindus, the swastika has been a good luck symbol for thousands of years. It means "to be well." Hindus look back to this traditional meaning, rather than its 20th-century connotations, during ceremonies.



Step 4:

After the swastika was drawn, I was again given rice to bless the swastika by sprinking rice on it. For each of the three sprinkles, I was given mantras to recite. In

Step 5

, I meditated on Lord Ganesha and recited holy mantras, including about 11 of Ganesha's 1008 names.




Step 6:

Next, I lit incense sticks. The pujari took these and circled them around the swastika three times in a clockwise direction, then took the sticks inside the car and circled them around the steering wheel three times in a clockwise direction, reciting mantras.




Step 7:

The pujari installed a small Ganesha idol to the right of the steering wheel. This is not ordinarily part of the ritual, and I had to provide the idol. To install this Ganesha, there was a short (5-minute) puja.



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