Car insurance

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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.

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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.

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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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