Wednesday, 4 December 2002

Om Banna (also called Om Bana and Bullet Baba) is a shrine located in Pali district near JodhpurIndia, devoted to a deity in the form of a motorcycle. It is located 20 kilometres (12 mi) from Pali and 50 kilometres (31 mi) away from Jodphur on the Pali-Jodhpur highway, near Chotila village. The motorcycle is a 350cc Royal Enfield Bullet. Hundreds of devotees turn up every day to pray for a safe journey, often bearing liquor.
In 1988., Om Banna (formerly known as Om Singh Rathore) was traveling from the town of Pali to Chotila when he lost control of his bullet motorcycle and struck a tree. Om Banna was killed instantly in the accident, his motorcycle falling into a nearby ditch. The morning after the accident, local police took the fallen motorcycle to a nearby police station. Miraculously, the next day it disappeared from the station and was found back at the site of the accident. Police, once again, took the motorcycle, this time emptying its fuel tank and putting it under lock and chain to prevent its removal. Despite their efforts, the next morning it again disappeared and was found at the accident site. Legend states that the motorcycle kept returning to the same ditch. It thwarted every attempt by police to keep it at the local police station; the motorcycle was always returned to the same spot before dawn.
This came to be seen as a miracle by local townsfolk and they began to worship the “Bullet Bike.” News of the miracle motorcycle spread to nearby villages and the townsfolk built a temple to worship it. This temple is known as “Bullet Baba’s Temple." It is believed that Om Banna’s spirit helps distressed travelers. The temple includes a tree ornamented with offerings of bangles, scarves and rope. Those who pass by stop to bow their heads in honor of the helpful spirit and leave an offering. For the past twenty years, Poonam Giri has maintained the temple and acted as priest.

Every day nearby villagers and travellers stop and pray to the bike and its late owner Om Singh. The temple beside the Enfield motorbike has a big picture of Singh, fondly known as Om Banna. It is said that a person who does not stop to pray at the shrine is in for a dangerous journey. Many shops offering incense sticks, flowers, coconut and red thread meant for offering prayers have sprung up near the shrine. Local people sing folk songs in the name of Om Bana who owned the motorcycle. Travellers, especially drivers of vehicles that pass by, offer prayers at the site, which is almost in the middle of the road.
Some drivers also offer a small bottle of liquor at the site, praying for a safe journey. Devotees also apply the 'tilak' mark and tie a red thread on the motorbike.