September 21, 2009

Bikes & Blessings; Together at Last!

Found on "The Sarcastic Lutheran" (a.k.a. Pastor Nadia Bolz-Weber, an ELCA Lutheran female pastor):

her "blessing of the bikes"

I have heard of blessings similar to this, most recently a blessing of backpacks for the schoolchildren of a church. It's one thing to symbolically hope the kids have a successful year. But, bikes?

On my second trip to India, I witnessed a "blessing of the motorcycle" ritual. It took place outside a hindu shrine for the bull god, whose name escapes me. First the motorcycle was adorned with garlands of chrysanthemums. Then it was sprinkled with two kinds of liquids, I think the first was coconut milk, but I don't recall the other. Finally, the motorcyclist's owner/rider took hold of the handlebars and moved the bike forward, so that it crushed a lime underneath its wheel. I wish I was making this up.

The owner was thrilled, and breathed a huge sigh when the lime was crushed. It was as if he thought an evil spirit - formerly possessing the motorcycle to drive too fast, or come dangerously close to hitting pedestrians, or simply go so slowly that the owner risked being late to work - had finally been released from the bike.

But... aren't we in charge of our own bikes' handling and execution? Therefore, a bike blessing is silly and pointless. Why not just hand out free helmets?

And on that note, I think I'll go for a bike ride myself.

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