India is a land of plurality – diverse views, opinions and beliefs. However, sometimes these beliefs transcend the precinct of rationality and infiltrate into space where it becomes superstition. For those who believe, he is God and the place a temple; for the rest, everything is a fantasy.
Located on NH 65 between Jodhpur and Pali, there is a small temple dedicated to a 350 cc Royal Enfield Bullet. As weird as it sounds, in this temple, visitors offer flowers and worship a bike. The locals believe that anyone passing through this highway must halt and offer their obeisances to the bike deity for blessings of a safe journey.
The Legend of Om Banna:
The story is about Om Singh Rathore, a resident of Chotila Village in Rajasthan. Being a newlywed groom, he was called Om Banna (Banna is the word parochially used to refer to newlywed grooms). On a tragic night, while on the way to attend a marriage, Om Banna died on spot after his 350 cc Royal Enfield Bullet slammed into a tree and fell into a ditch. The next day police arrived at the spot, confiscated the mutilated bike and took it to the police station. However, next day, to the surprise of the policemen, the bike disappeared from their custody and on investigation, they found the bike in the same ditch from where it was taken away. Suspecting a mischievous robbery attempt, the cops seized the bike again, emptied the fuel tank and chained it. However, to the awe of the cops and the locals, the bike again returned to the same ditch triggering a flurry of canards and gossips. The eerie returning of the bike continued a few more times. Meanwhile, some people claimed to have seen Om Banna at the marriage function. As the news spread, it attracted hundreds of visitors to the site and with time, Om Banna acquired godly status and the bike became a deity. As time progressed, a small shrine was built and the Royal Enfield bike, now known as the Bullet Baba, was encased in a glass box.
Now there is a proper commercialized temple and even a priest at this temple. During daytime, there are hawkers selling bananas, sweets, bangles, scarfs and incense sticks outside the temple. People offer alcohol to Om Banna which is a custom here.
While traveling from Jodhpur to Udaipur, we stopped at this temple. The temple is open even during the night time as we halted there around 4 AM. There was a bust statue of Om Banna and people were igniting incense sticks in front of the statue. Inside a glass box, was the Royal Enfield which was somewhat decorated with garlands. We halted there for 10 mins after which we continued our journey to Udaipur.
In case you are passing through the place, you can just halt for 10 mins and visit it. No matter how weird it may be but it definitely gives you a story to tell others. After all its all part of our Incredible India.