Article of the Month - Oct 2022

This article by Natwer Kabra

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A temple is the heart of Hindu Dharma

The centuries-old tradition of a home temple or pooja mandir in Hinduism is acutely rooted in our culture. A mandir is a symbol of our gratitude towards the Lord for giving us life and shelter. It is a testimony of our staunch religious faith, belief, and devotion toward him.

A revered pooja mandir is every devotee’s dream. Truly speaking, god is the real owner of the house in which we humans reside only with his blessings. It is unthinkable to live without a temple- a home is unfinished minus a temple. It is the heart of Hindu Dharma.

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What is a temple?

A temple or altar is a symbol of prospect, peace, and fortune. The size of the temple or the puja room is not important. It can be luxurious or conventional or even can be a small shelf on a wall or an altar which is a raised area in a house of worship. In urban cities, due to space crunch, it is always not possible to keep a separate mandir space in the house. In such situations, a wall–mounted or simply a shelf or a table (altar) may be used as a temple. Eventually, it is the bhav (Spiritual emotion) towards God that attracts the Divine waves to the top of the temple.

Rules for the temple

The puja room is a sacred space in Hindu homes dedicated to offering prayers to god. Hence while launching a temple at home, utmost care must be taken to follow some vital rules and rituals to bring undying peace and fortune.  

• The basic thumb rule of the temple’s height is that it should be placed appropriately above the floor area where the puja could be performed easily. 

• Temples should be made of fine-quality wood or marble. All these materials have a better ability to retain and emit sattvik (Sattva-predominant) waves.

• Whether having a luxurious or small temple or simply an Altar or Vedi worship place, one must pay respect, reverence, and devotion for some time daily to pray to gods.

• Apart from homes, they are there at places of work, hospitals, clubs, restaurants, schools, etc. It is perfectly said that proper place and maintenance of temples is most important to gain absolute peace, positivity, and fortune in the family.

This is the place where we re-energize ourselves and fill the atmosphere with positive energy.

Why is a temple important for home?

One may argue that god is omnipresent, present everywhere – in the air, in the food we eat, and on the ground, we walk on. But he can’t be seen, only felt. And it is for this experience that a temple or a puja room is built in a home. It serves the purpose of creating a conducive atmosphere for meditation, worship, chanting, and prayers.

Despite having limitless air all around, one needs a pump to concentrate the air and push it into the tyre of a vehicle. similarly one can get water only at the outlet or taps mounted upon a pipeline although water is everywhere inside it. Although there is air all around, one needs a fan to experience it. Similarly, the atmosphere within the temple inspires the mood of the devotee towards an amazing powerhouse of positive, spiritual energies and faith.

A Home mandir is imperative for many other reasons as well:

 It is a way for us to welcome our deities and offer them an enduring space in our hearts and home.

 With a dedicated space, there flourishes an integral self-confidence that he is always there to protect the family from all types of harm and evils.

 The resident can invoke his blessings by conversing with him daily as well as on special occasions.

 A puja temple holds our spiritual thoughts and routes our feelings, which infiltrate through our heart and manipulate the mind and the soul.

 No matter how exhausted or distressed we are, by just being in the prayer room our entire mood is transformed and we feel complete peace within.

• A home temple serves as the rite of passage from one generation to the other. It enables us to infuse our religious values and instill righteous morals in children.

• It is a special place where the entire family - young or old assemble in unison, Mainly on special occasions to solemnly worship and seek divine blessings.

• In other words, it offers a religious sanctuary at home. 

• There are positive as well as negative forms of energy, existing at different locations for certain reasons. Placing a temple will keep the home away from evil energies and emit positive vibes bringing safety.

• The sound generated by blowing the conch and bells activates the surrounding subtle waves. which makes the environment within the house virtuous, sattvik, spiritual, and Pious.

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Notable Vastu features & other vital rules to evoke :

Minute but significant details need to bear in mind before installing a temple at home. If followed thoroughly, these help to procure peace, prosperity, and fortune within a home. Here are some tips that need to be followed:

Which place is good for a temple at home?

• A mandir is a place where one must feel peace amidst the chaotic life. According to Vaastu Shastra, the deities should be set in the far north-eastern corner of the house. This helps maintain a healthy balance between all five elements.

• If a full room is not available, then a small corner is sufficient. If due for some reason that is not possible, then the west direction may also be thought for. 

• But, the south direction must be avoided in any case, As because this direction is judged as that of Yama, the god of death. 

• try and ensure that the performer faces the north or east while praying.

• Can I keep my temple in the bedroom?

Vastu shastra says ‘no’. However, if one must keep it, then it should be placed in such a way that the owner’s feet do not point toward the mandir. Also, keep the mandir covered with a drape when not in use.

Which Gods can be kept within the periphery of the house?

There is no hard and fast rule. One can keep within the walls of the home- all the Vaishnava deities or deities in whom he has belief, and faith (astha).

In a mandir space or altar, the best direction to position the god idols or photos is the east or the north, as the devotee must not face the south. 

The idols or photos of the deities must not be placed on the floor. They must be positioned on a shelf or a table ( altar ).

The puja space under the staircase, basement, against the bathroom wall must be avoided.

Bhagwan Hanuman should always face the South East direction as South East is the direction of fire.

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Can we keep the temple in front of the main door?

As per Vastu expert, no. If it cannot be avoided, make sure to install a curtain in front of the temple, when not used.

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What About Laddu Gopal?

Do not leave him alone in the house. Take him with you wherever you go outside the house or proper & definite arrangements must be made for his daily worship without fail.

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Which god should be at the entrance?

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• As per Vastu, you should keep idols and photos of Ganesha and Laxmi at the entrance of your home to welcome good luck, wealth, and prosperity.

• Generally certain mantras and words are inscribed and kept in & around the puja room, for instance- the Swastika, a Yantra, sacred ‘Ohm’ 

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• There must be a separate space for storage to keep the essential supplies to carry on the daily rituals of the temple.

 Dispose of broken or chipped, damaged idols- they are inauspicious. These should be immersed in a flowing water body.

• Adorn deities with fresh bright colored attires, embellish with magnificent jewelry and ornaments, garlands & decorate with flowers and fairy lights.  

• Play soft bhajans, meditation tunes, and music to create positivity, and a soothing effect on the inhabitants.

• On auspicious occasions, make rangolis with flowers or colors, place scented / aromatic candles, incense sticks, etc.

The size of the idols to be kept 

In a home temple, the idols kept should not be very big. According to the ancient sacred scripts, a Shivalinga’s size should not be bigger than one’s thumb.

A shivaling is highly sensitive to energies within the home. Therefore, it is a must to place a shiva linga in the temple. Other idols of gods and goddesses should be smaller in size as well. 

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The temple should get proper sunlight and fresh air

• The placement position of the temple should be such that at some point of time during the day, the sun's rays fall on it. In homes where sunlight falls on the temples in abundance, there is no negativity. But in bigger cities, it may not be possible.

• Offer only fresh flowers, never offer stale or spoiled flowers at any point. Also, offer fresh water for cleaning purposes. However, the leaves of the Tulsi plant and the Ganga Jal are never considered stale, they are eternally pure. Tulsi or Basil leaves are not considered stale till 11 days. They can be reused by sprinkling water for purpose of worship.

Draw curtains at the temple every night

Just like we retire each night to sleep, we draw curtains, shut the light and prefer solace and rest in peace, the same holds good for deities. Therefore, one should a draw curtain over the temple at night.

 Keep some Gaumutra & Gangajal to be used on various occasions.

 Daily offer Saatvik food for Bhogs( Prasadam) to Gods. 

 Chant the name of the Lord at least one full rosary (mala of 108beads). Make sure that the male deities are smeared with sandalwood paste and female deities are smeared with Kum-kum and oil.

 Be careful that the diya (the lamp) is not extinguished during the puja. It hampers the proper results.

A home mandir is a place of sanctity, a holy place. It helps to experience divinity. Whether made of marble or wood or cement or any other type, it is a source of positive energy protecting us from negativity and evil. With a temple at home, we make room for our deities to perform daily puja rituals just like it is done in a bigger, public temple. Unfortunately Nowadays, generally people don’t visit temples every day. They go for darshan only on auspicious days, festivals, and occasions.

Therefore at least a Mandir or a Puja room or Altar in a house must be established.

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