Car insurance


In Sichuan province, a long-haired guru faces out the front window of a silver “breadloaf car” (known for their great affordability and not-so-great reliability), grinning upwards into the face of danger and misfortune from the gap between the windshield and dashboard.


In Boston, a affixed to the dashboard of a friend’s car, is a sticker of a Hindu deity (“probably Ganesha”, the “most popular deity in India”) to protect the car from bad luck and bad drivers.


In Myanmar, there is an shrine on the outskirts of Yangon called “Golden Banyan Tree”, dedicated to a “nat” who blesses automobiles to ensure their continued safe operation. After making the requisite donation to a specific nat, who inhabits a massive banyan tree there, an attending keeper of the shrine blesses the vehicle in question and ties a red ribbon around the mirror as a token of proof of the blessing. I’ve personally witnessed entire minibuses pull up to the shrine, all of the passengers disembark, the driver commission a blessing from the attending priest, and then all passengers re-board the minibus to continue on their journey.

What and who do we rely upon to ensure smooth passage over life’s physical/emotional roads? On what basis is a protector enlisted to protect a vehicle, and what proof is needed to demonstrate (and reassure passengers) that the vehicle they are traveling in has been sufficiently shielded from calamity?

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