Many people in the West are familiar with the basic principles of Feng Shui, an ancient Chinese system which teaches people how to arrange their homes in order to promote the positive flow of energy. Hindus have a similar philosophy called Vaastu Shastra, or Hindu Architecture. According to Vaastu Shastra, buildings should be built and designed in a way that encourages positive forces to enter the structure and discourages negative forces from entering. This is especially important in the home.
The house should be rectangular or square for optimal energy flow. Also, it shouldn’t be built too close to the next house. The lot should not have any cracks or crevices. The main doorway will ideally face the east, but it can face north or west. There should be an even number of doors and windows, and the windows should be symmetrical, as symmetry is a cornerstone of Hindu architecture. The first brick for the foundation should be laid in the east or north.
As a sign of enlightenment, special consideration is given to the northeast corner of the building, because on the longest day of the year, June 21st, the sun rises in the northeast. Therefore, the northeast part of the home should be reserved for the shrine, where the family engages in daily worship. The opposite corner, the southwest, is considered the lowliest. Bathrooms can be built in the southwestern part of the home, but not the kitchen, as it is believed that placement could lead to poor health.
The shrine is a major part of the Hindu home. Whether it’s a tabletop or an entire room, the shrine is where the family worships the various Hindu gods and goddesses. Worship, or puja, involves the burning of incense and offerings of flowers, food and fruit. The family chants, often in Sanskrit, the ancient Hindu language. Puja in the home helps people find inner peace, many believe. The shrine room is kept especially clean as a sign of honor for the Divine.
The garden should also encourage positive energy flow. Nothing should obstruct the doorways or the center of the house. Plants believed to be especially favorable include basil, jasmine, pomegranate and saffron. Lemon trees, as well as sandalwood, almond and coconut, are considered good for planting in the home garden, but fig trees should only be planted at the temple. Water elements are positive, but they should not be placed at the northeast corner or in the center of the garden.
- Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images