Nationality: Indian American
Occupation: USC business student
Residence: Southern California
Date of Performance/Collection: 4/19/20
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s): Sindi
NA: We pray to our car when we get a new car. You basically do like a ritual to the car when you are praying because Indian people believe there is god in everything. Like there is god in a pillow, there is god like that is what we learn when we were younger so it’s like you are praying to the god in the car that nothing will happen to you or the car.
Interviewer: Do you know what exactly the ritual entails?
NA: Part of it is you have to drive over a coconut you also you know how people wear the red dot on their forehead, the bhindi, it’s not like the fashion kind it is literally just a red dot um you have to do that to your car in certain stops. Then, the is a ritual called like Arti where you put fire on the plate kind of like. I don’t know what Arti is, how to describe it. You basically go in like circles like with the plate and that’s just. I don’t understand why you do that but you do it. So anytime you go to the temple or anything first people will sing songs and read the books we have to read and then at the end of it you do Arti so you go stand in front of the alter where all the gods are and then there is like a silver plate with fire in the middle but its not like a candle it is usually like oil with a cotton swap. Then you have to put a dollar, don’t know why you put a dollar. And then you have to move the plate in a circular motion around the gods for the prayer song
Interviewer: So you do this in the temple to bless your car?
NA: Oh no you do that for anything, anytime there is a religious ceremony you do that plate thing [Arti] where you go in circles but like when you pray to your car you do that too like you have that with you.
Interviewer: Can you pray to other things to that are not your car? Is there another common thing you pray to?
NA: You do your car, pictures of elders in your family, your house, anything with like value that you do not want anything bad to happen to. Like you are not going to do your Louis Vuitton bag. I mean if you are really extra you can, but you can do your bike. Something of value.
NA is a 20 year old USC business student whose family is from Sindhi culture in India. She grew up in southern California. This was taken from an interview conducted with NA. She is also my roommate and I asked her about folklore she had related to her Indian background. This information was gathered from an informal interview conducted over Facetime.
After research, I found this is called a Puja. This protection ritual is tapping into the divine in an object. Not only is this a blessing of an object, but also an indirect blessing of yourself. For example, your car keeps you safe while you are traveling. Therefore, if your car is safe then you are as well.
Blessings are very common in Sindhi culture where the Arti can be used as a general blessing as well for use for specific purposes. The use of the Bindi is often used to bring out the power in the Chakra. Placing in on the car is likely a way to calling upon the divinity that lives in the car. The coconut seems like an offering of some kind to a god or gods that are often used in blessing rituals.