Praying for Safe Travels at Om Banna Bullet Shrine

About an hour’s drive out of Jodhpur, near the
village of Chotila, stands a shrine. This is Om Banna Bullet Shrine, a shrine
devoted to Bullet Baba – the bullet motorcycle god.

Like all shrines found all over India, Om Banna
Bullet Shrine summons many to stop and show devotion through prayer and
offerings. But not every shrine in India holds such an incredible story.

In 1991, Om Banaji was riding his motorcycle,
drunk, along Pali-Jodhpur Highway. He lost control of his motorcycle which
slammed into a tree. He died instantly at the scene.

Travellers pay respects and pray to Om Banaji's motorcycle.
Travellers pay respects and pray to Om Banaji’s motorcycle.

After their routine investigations, the local
police took the young man’s motorcycle back to the police station for further
testing. It was alleged that the motorcycle miraculously started itself and drove
itself back to the crash site. Police located the motorcycle, returned it to
their station and secured it with chains. Yet, the motorcycle somehow kept returning
to the crash site. Upon hearing this story, Om Banaji’s father, a local village
leader, requested for a shrine to be erected at the site. People from nearby
villages helped to build the shrine.

Now, travellers along this stretch of dusty
highway stop to make offerings, mostly alcohol such as whiskey, pray at the
shrine and receive blessings from the shrine’s own priest. Many travellers stop
here in fear that something bad may happen to them during their journey. Locals
believe that Om Banna helps distressed travellers during their journeys.

Travellers walk around Om Banna Bullet Shrine.
Travellers walk around Om Banna Bullet Shrine.

When we travelled here, we were obliged to stop
and honour Om Banaji by removing our shoes and walk a circle around the shrine.
As we walked a lap of honour, we were able to view the motorcycle behind hazy glass.
The motorcycle stood confidently near a photo of its strapping owner and the
shrine was blanketed in strands of marigolds. Flags flew above while local
musicians sung Hindu devotional songs.

There must be some truth in travellers’ fears.
Not long after we left the shrine, we witnessed the all-too-common reality of
driving behaviour here in India. We saw two buses driving head-to-head along the
highway in front of us during an attempted overtake. The overtaking bus pulled
back at the very last second. After recovering from the shock of what we saw,
we were reminded of an accident earlier in the day. A car had collided with a
cow; the windscreen was left shattered, bonnet crumpled and a poor cow lying
lifeless on the highway. Tracks of black tyre marks were the only telling evidence
of those last crucial seconds before the collision. I’m grateful we had time to
stop and pay our respects at Om Banna Bullet Shrine.

Check out this video to see the motorcycle up
close and sans glass.

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