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Divine Spaces: An insight into the intricaciesBy Aman Mishra
Pooja Room Interiors Tweet 0 Comment(s)
“That night, Sushila went to the puja room when she arrived home. Her house was small, with only a few rooms, but there had always been a puja room as long as she could remember. It was in the northeast corner of the house, and Sushila once asked her mother why they did not have a fancier bigger puja room. “We are small people and we will be happy with small gods. It is not the size of the space used for worship that matters,” said her mother. “It is the size of your heart that matters. You can learn the lessons of Buddha and the Goddess in a prison, you do not need even this humble puja room. There are people in this town who are happy with much less than what we have.” - Joe Niemczura, The Sacrament of the Goddess1
‘Where the troubled mind finds some solace, where the monotony of life finds some breathing space’
A dedicated space which keeps us off the mayhem of life, soothes the scars and gives us the time to reflect is undoubtedly, manna for the perturbed individual. A prayer space is a zone of serenity that helps us connect to the eternal energies – GOD, who bestows his presence within us to guide us to the right paths of our life. The mere presence of such a space induces positive vibes into the atmosphere. Prayer spaces were given importance at par with the other spaces in traditional households. But, the limitations created by the rising numbers led to reduction in size of dwelling spaces, which in turn gave rise to smaller prayer spaces, though sans negation of their importance.
Designing a space that fulfils the aforementioned features becomes a challenge. Pooja rooms are auspicious, and send positive vibes throughout the home, hence it is not surprising that many people choose to make it the sacred centre of their home. The main altar is supported by a wooden platform which is atypical of Hindu shrines, making it unique. While the wooden platform on the floor creates a niche space where one can sit on the floor to pray or kneel in worship. In essence, the use of wood in the Pooja room design seems to speak about staying grounded in spirituality, and is humble yet elegant.2
Vastu Shastra continues to be a guiding principle for Pooja rooms in many homes. It mentions the North-East corner as the ideal location for a Pooja room as it is said to exude positive energies. ‘Brahmasthana’ or the centre space of the house is said to be the best suited for locating a Pooja room, provided it is spacious enough. Pooja room should not be placed in the bedroom. It should not be made above, below, adjacent or opposite to a toilet. Pooja room should also not be constructed next to the kitchen or located under a staircase. In case the Pooja space is made in the kitchen, the deity should be kept in such a way that we face east while praying. The roof should be preferably dome or pyramid-shaped. This facilitates smooth flow of positive energies from the tip to the dome or pyramid into the puja room. This shape also assists in meditation. Ideally, the doors and windows of this room should open towards the east or north. These should be made of good quality wood and have double shutters. The colours used in Pooja room should be very serene like white, soft shades of yellow, blue or violet.3
To uplift the spiritual quotient of the place, it should be well-lit, airy and ventilated. The first rays of the sun falling in a corner of the room can create an unparalleled space. The choice of colours should be mild and soothing to the eyes. Preferred and advisable colours are white, light yellow, orange, light blue or green. These accentuate the overall brightness of the space along with lending a spacious appearance. Wood is the predominant material used for construction of the mandap or slab in traditional Hindu households, but with the advent of new-age materials, granite, marble and even metal are finding increased usage. According to the principles of Vastu, the entrances to a Pooja room should have a double-shutter to prevent inconvenience when it is open.
“Simply by placing a candle, cross, Bible or other object on a piece of cloth can designate a special place.” In the case of Christian households, the altar is usually preferred in the drawing room, but this may vary from place to place. The same rules of climatology are applicable to Christian prayer spaces. Usage of wood helps create a space that sets the mood for the designated purpose. A wooden altar mounted on the wall can be an option for space-deprived dwellings. Contrary to the Hindu Pooja room, a Christian prayer space should be preferably kept open without doors.
Calligraphy of Quranic inscriptions engraved on wooden surfaces have been the traditional paraphernalia of Islamic décor in Muslim households. In the absence of any restriction on the space for offering prayers, a peaceful space set aside in a room with proper natural as well as artificial lighting can be a perfect way of upholding the sanctity of prayers.
Irrespective of religious inclinations, the primary objectives of a prayer space are fulfilled when basic design rules are taken care of. The colour, ventilation, choice of material, lighting and climatological aspects play a role in making it productive and transforming it into a space that radiates goodness, optimism and peacefulness, and that goes a long way in influencing the mind of an individual to make this world a better place to live in.
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