Skip to main content

Our car was blessed, an Erin Report













Our beautiful beach-beater came to us via Ali, who was letting her go because he was selling most belongings before returning to India for the next few months. When we first drove her as our own, I reached up and began to peel away a golden sticker from the inside of the windshield. I quickly stopped myself and we have since come to love the three Hindu deities that adorn our Accord. I'm not superstitious, nor do I worship Hindu gods/goddesses, but something about taking a sticker off that was put there as part of a Hindu blessing ritual made me feel like I'd be ending our good luck streak.

I did a little research on Hindu blessings and learned that many Hindus believe in blessing everything, especially the tools they use in daily lives. From what I understand, the puja, or blessing ritual, is preformed by a pujari (Hindu priest) upon the purchase of a new car. The purpose is to rid the car of all bad influences. Hands are washed with holy water, the owner is given three handfuls of rice to sprinkle over the front of car, then a swastika is drawn with paste made of turmeric and water (aside: swastikas were born in India 5000 years ago and are good luck symbols). More rice to bless the swastika, then mantras to recite, then meditations on Lord Ganesha, break 1 coconut and 4 lemons. The pujari often places a small symbol of Ganesha in on the dash.

Back to our car. She has not one, but three idol stickers. We've got a sticker of Gansesha - worshipped as the lord of beginnings and as the lord of obstacles; a Lakshmi- goddess of wealth, light, wisdom, the lotus flower and fortune, and secondarily of luck, beauty, courage and fertility, and a Vishnu - All-Pervading essence of all beings, the master of and beyond the past, present and future, the creator and destroyer of all existences, one who supports, sustains and governs the Universe and originates and develops all elements within.


All I have to say is, Thank goodness we have some protection on these wacky Hawaiian roads!

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

An annual note to all the (NSF) haters

It's that time of year again: students have recently been notified about whether they received the prestigious NSF Graduate Student Research Fellowship. Known in the STEM community as "The NSF," the fellowship provides a student with three years of graduate school tuition and stipend, with the latter typically 5-10% above the standard institutional support for first- and second-year students. It's a sweet deal, and a real accellerant for young students to get their research career humming along smoothly because they don't need to restrict themselves to only advisors who have funding: the students fund themselves!
This is also the time of year that many a white dude executes what I call the "academic soccer flop." It looks kinda like this:


It typically sounds like this: "Congrats! Of course it's easier for you to win the NSF because you're, you know, the right demographic." Or worse: "She only won because she's Hispanic."…

Culture: Made Fresh Daily

There are two inspirations for this essay worth noting. The first is an impromptu talk I gave to the board of trustees at Thatcher School while I was visiting in October as an Anacapa Fellow. Spending time on this remarkable campus interacting with the students, faculty and staff helped solidify my notions about how culture can be intentionally created. The second source is Beam Times and Lifetimes by Sharon Tarweek, an in-depth exploration of the culture of particle physics told by an anthropologist embedded at SLAC for two decades. It's a fascinating look at the strange practices and norms that scientists take for granted.
One of the stories that scientists tell themselves, whether implicitly or explicitly, is that science exists outside of and independent of society. A corollary of this notion is that if a scientific subfield has a culture, e.g. the culture of astronomy vs. the culture of chemistry, that culture is essential rather than constructed. That is to say, scientific c…

The subtle yet real racism of the Supreme Court

Judge Roberts, a member of the highest court in the land, which is currently hearing the sad story of mediocre college aspirant Abigail Fischer, recently asked, "What unique ­perspective does a minority student bring to a physics class? I’m just wondering what the benefits of diversity are in that situation?" 
Did you catch the white supremacy in this question? If not, don't feel bad because it's subtly hidden beneath the cloaking field of colorblind racism. (As for Scalia's ign'nt-ass statements, I'm not even...)
Try rephrasing the question: "What unique perspective does a white student bring to a physics classroom?" The answer is, of course, absolutely nothing! Why? Because race isn't biological, and is therefore not deterministic of cognitive abilities. Did you perhaps forget that you knew that when considering Roberts' question? If so, again, it's understandable. Our society and culture condition all of us to forget basic facts …