The iconic Bullet is deity here

Devotees offer liquor at this temple in Chotila
Last Updated : 19 November 2018, 09:32 IST
Last Updated : 19 November 2018, 09:32 IST

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Villagers claim that the motorcycle had “returned” to the accident site on its own a few times

Rajasthan is well and truly the land of wonders. Here, every nook and corner can throw up a surprise. One such example is village Chotila in the Pali district adjoining Jodhpur. Here a 350cc Royal Enfield Bullet motorcycle is worshipped as the presiding deity of a temple and the main offering is liquor!

This story is intriguing and has ingredients of a suspense thriller. Many would like to dismiss it with contempt. But not the people in this region.  It is said Om Singh, a simpleton from a neighbouring village Bana, died in a road accident when his Bullet bike rammed into a tree between Jodhpur and Nagaur. He was proceeding to village Chotila from Pali. After the mishap, the bike was impounded and taken to a nearby police station. To everybody’s surprise, the bike was found at the accident site next morning. Initially, police thought it was a mischief by someone.

To ensure that the person will not indulge in the same trick next time, they chained the vehicle in the station and also emptied the fuel tank, thinking that it would be difficult to push the heavy bike. But what happened not only baffled the police but also scared them. The bike was found at the same spot next morning! Policemen were perplexed and a wee bit scared also. Then, they were wondering what to do with the bike. Then, policemen, who were really worried, decided to wash off their hands by handing over the bike to Bana’s relatives. But surprises did not stop there.

The accident happened some three decades back and pillion rider Narapt Singh survived with some injures. Bana, who succumbed to his injures, was just 25. The tragedy only got magnified as villagers heard that his young wife was pregnant. Though a few months later happiness returned to the family of Thakur of Chotila Jog Singh’s Haveli when a son was born to the widow of Om Bana, the loss of the young man lingered on among the villagers.

His father Jog Singh was a popular figure as he had served as a sarpanch. Many were envious of Om Bana, as he was a proud owner of the bike, which was not common at that time. The motorcycle was a part of his identity and he endeared himself to the villagers with his good manners and a kind of Robinhood image.

According to villagers, Bana’s relatives sold the bike to a person in Gujarat, who was not aware of the developments. The buyer took the bike without realising what was in store. Villagers insist that the bike was found at the same accident spot, covering a distance of 400 km! The buyer, after this experience, did not muster courage to take back the bike. Such instances kept recurring. No one had any valid explanation.

In the meantime, news spread and the people and started gathering out of curiosity. Suddenly, one day, some people started offering pooja--it is not clear whether out of reverence or fear. Over the months, a structure came up--and pooja for the Bullet motorcycle and portrait of Bana became a regular feature.

Now, this is known as “Bullet Baba’s temple” and commoners believe that even after his death Om Bana helps distressed passers-by. Travellers, who pass by this road, stop for a while to bow their heads at Bullet Baba’s feet for a safe journey.

The people of the area then built a platform where the accident took place and his motorbike and the portrait of Bana were placed on the platform with an “Akhand jyoti” (eternal lamp) near the vehicle. They started offering poojas there and the traditional court singers started bhagan kirtan in praise of Baba.

People apply tilak and tie red tread on the motorcycle in fulfillment of their wish. “Villagers here believe Bana’s spirit still hovers around the place and they hear the Royal Enfield rev up at night,” said Himmat Singh, a Rajput and resident of a nearby village. The place attracts people from other villages and tourists. Shops also have come up in the area, selling the video cassettes narrating the heroics of Baba, some original and a few imaginary. Albums and cassettes of songs in praise of the Om Baba are in great demand. All the pooja materials can be bought here and liquor too, the main offering, but only as
offerings to Baba.

The people in surrounding villages have great belief in Baba. During weddings, the newlyweds come and worship here. The members of Rajput families bring their newborn babies here. They see Bana as their inherited god. They perform the ritual of mundan (tonsuring of child’s first hair) here only. As the consumption of liquor is accepted among the Rajputs, the beer is offered here.

The spot has become a compulsory halt for the drivers to offer their prayers on the Jodhpur-Pali National Highway for a safe journey. They would pay obeisance to the Bullet bike as if it is a presiding deity. According to the villagers, Bana was drunk when he met with the accident. So, some of his believers offer small liquor bottles at the temple to
appease the presiding deity.

According to Som Singh, cousin of Om Bana, the offering in the temple on an average exceeds Rs 1,000 per day. It is a sacred place for the people from far and near who hope that Baba would fulfil their wishes.

Om Bana’s son Mahan Prakram Singh, now a youth, is happy to hear about the stories of adulation of his father. “I am very happy that my father is reverred by the villagers”. In a land where temples are built for film stars it is not surprising that the villagers worship a local hero!

Published 08 September 2012, 16:35 IST

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