A Guide to Car Puja: Blessing Your New Car

Parsi family performing puja for Morris vintage car

Hira Punjabi/Getty Images 

What is a car puja? Simply put, it's a Hindu ceremony to consecrate or bless a new car and keep it safe from bad influences.

Hindus bless all items and implements that are used in daily life—homes, cars, motorized vehicles of all types, home appliances, such as mixers, grinders, stoves, TVs, stereos, etc. A puja is done at the inception of your connection to the implement: just before using it or as soon as possible after purchase. When you buy a new car or a home, you do the puja before driving the car or moving into the new house.

Here, I will try to explain this puja. However, puja details may vary from pujari to pujari (Hindu priest).

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How to Bless Your New Car

Call your local Hindu temple and ask to set up an appointment. This is not always necessary, but it is a good thing to do so you don't show up on a day when you can't get time with the pujari to do the puja, which may take about 15–20 minutes. In addition to setting up the time, ask about the fee. In the Syracuse Hindu Mandir where I had my car puja done, it costs $31 dollars. Usually, the fee will end in one—so that it is an odd number. Even number amounts are not considered auspicious.

Just before the rituals begin, it's best to wash the brand new car and wipe it clean.

What You Will Need

This varies slightly from temple to temple, but in general, the things which are needed include:

  • Four lemons
  • One coconut
  • Money to pay the pujari
  • (Optional) Ganesha (elephant god of good fortune and beginnings) idol to place on the dashboard
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Step 1

The owner of the car participates in the puja with the pujari, as others watch the proceedings. In the photo (above) I am with the pujari (to my right) and my mom (to my left). The first thing I had to do was accept "holy water" into my right hand and wash my hands for the puja. This was repeated three times. In temples, it is a rule to accept things into the right hand. I did this by placing my left hand under my right hand.

In these pujas, it is common that the person for whom the puja is being performed will not know what will happen next. For this reason, the puja (like many Hindu rituals) can be chaotic. 

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Step 2

For three repetitions, I accepted rice from the pujari to sprinkle onto the front of the car. In other puja ceremonies, other types of food may be offered. 

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Step 3

The pujari draws a swastika (an auspicious Hindu symbol, which took on a sinister meaning after the Nazis adopted it) with the third finger… with the third finger of the right hand (this is an auspicious finger). This symbol is drawn on the car with turmeric powder mixed with water, which does not stain the car. It can also be drawn with sandalwood paste. The swastika—born in India over 5,000 years ago—is a symbol of good luck and means "to be well."

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Step 5

After the swastika was drawn, I was again given rice to bless the swastika by sprinkling rice on it three times. For each sprinkle, I was given mantras to recite.

Step four was next repeated, during which I meditated on Lord Ganesha and recited holy mantras. One set of mantras includes reciting 11 of the 108 names of Lord Ganesha.

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Step 6

I next lit incense sticks. The pujari took these and circled them around the swastika three times in a clockwise direction, then took them inside the car and circled them around the steering wheel three times in a clockwise direction, reciting mantras.

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Step 7

The pujari installed a small Ganesha idol near the steering wheel. This is actually not a typical step, but one I requested be done for an idol that I provided. 

To install this Ganesha, there was a small secondary puja which lasted five minutes. Mine was a small Ganesha enclosed in a small plastic case that can be opened. In my ceremony,  the pujari opened the case holding my Ganesha, had me put holy water inside it, then put rice in it three times. Then he took out the rice, leaving three grains remaining inside the case, then closed the plastic case and attached it to the dashboard behind the steering wheel. An idol of this type should be located where the driver can see it, using the adhesive pad that was on the case.

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Step 8

Traditionally, the conclusion of the ceremony begins when the owner of the car breaks the coconut near the right front tire and sprinkles the coconut water on the tire. The coconut is kept as prasadam (holy food offering given to God during pujas) and eaten later.

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Step 9

I had previously purchased four lemons, and the pujari next put one under each tire. Then, I got into the car and drove it to the right side. There was a roundabout driveway in front of the temple, which I circled once. This ritual is to rid the vehicle of any bad influences. Some people drive around three times, and in some temples, the driver will drive around the temple itself. Since the swastika represents a noxious philosophy to so many people, you should remove all traces of it after the ritual concludes.