Designing the Divine Space
The serenity of a prayer room or corner brings the much-needed respite from the maddening mayhem around us. Intruo delves into the making of these divine spaces…
Five shrill rings of the morning alarm to wake you up from sleep and 20 WhatsApp message beeps to put you to sleep! And what’s in between is the never-ending saga called life! A deadline that won’t stop staring into face; the approaching exams getting scarier than horror movie; the prices of vegetables that touch a new high every time you visit market… Huh! There’s only one place in the comfort of your home that keeps most of us off the maddening mayhem – the serene prayer room or worship corner. It’s one of those spaces where you wish to be left alone for some precious moments of reflection. Irrespective of our religious orientation, each one of us pines for a space in the home that is untouched by the happenings around.
A well-designed space for worship adds a distinct mystical appeal to your home. Intruo brings you some fascinating facets of these worship spaces and gives you a glimpse of the divine ambience.
Place for the Divine Space
Traditional households in India had the luxury of space. A mandir in Hindu homes and miniature of church in Christian homes were quite a common sighting. Those were the days when a worship room was planned with the same vigour and detail as the rest of the home. But as the dwelling spaces became smaller, prayer rooms became prayer corners, wall mountings and cabinets. Nevertheless, worship spaces continue to occupy a sacred place in our dwellings.
Vastu Shastra, the science of architecture and construction, continues to be the guiding principle in the designs of many Hindu homes. According to Vastu Shatra, Northeast direction is the best location for pooja room as it emanates positive energies. If that is not possible, North or East is also fine. The Brahmasthana or the centre of house is a good location to have the pooja room if the area is big enough. “Most of the clients are very particular about the location of the worship place. It needs to be as per Vastu, even if it means compromising on other spaces. I came across a client who decided to let go of a huge space in his kitchen area, only because it was designated for place of worship. Toilet walls and under staircase spaces are not preferred,” informs architect and interior designer Akshata Menon Vig, founder, De Space Interiors.
The Christian altar is usually preferred in drawing room but it could differ from household to household. Parsis prefer to have their prayer corner in the kitchen for the aferghaniyu, diyo, flower vase and other symbols.
Look & Feel
A well-lit area uplifts the spiritual mood of the place. With enough natural light, the space should be airy and open. If the corner or the room faces the sunrise, nothing like it! White, light yellow or orange and light blue or green are the best colours for the walls. The floor should be designed with white or off- white marble. The idea is to keep it as bright-looking and spacious as possible. “For people who live in smaller apartments, the best place where you can accommodate your puja room is within the kitchen. Since the kitchen is always kept clean, create a space at one corner of the kitchen. You could have a photo of the god you worship along with the puja thali. Even if your puja room is not big or fancy, it doesn’t matter. It is the faith that counts and not the size. Apart from having the puja room in the kitchen, you can use dividers and create a space in your living room,” explains Minal Dube, Chief of Design, Intruo. She also points out, “Open spaces like the balcony is widely used by people today. You can wall mount the worship area in your kitchen or balcony, or invest in a marble or wooden mantap. Even if it’s a small space, decorate it in such a manner that the entire worship space looks nice.”
Design & Décor Ideas
In many Christian homes in Kerala, cladding stones or cladding tiles are used as a backdrop for Jesus Christ’s statue or image. In traditional Hindu households, wood is predominantly used for the structure of the mandap or slab. But over the years, many other materials such as marble, granite and metal are also being explored.
Make your worship space artistically interesting with intricate carvings in stone, wood, marble or metal. You could keep it fairly simple by having a carved marble panel on a raised/levelled semi-circular platform. Mount the images of deities on this panel and have it interestingly lit from behind. A few potted plants on the side will keep the place refreshing. A wooden showcase-cum- prayer alter mounted on the wall is also a great idea in space-deprived apartments of today.
If you have the luxury of space and can afford a dedicated room for worship, go for a more exotic look with bricked walls, rock stones and mystique indirect light. According to Vaastu, the door to the pooja room should be of double-shutter so it doesn’t cause inconvenience when it is open. An elaborately carved wooden door at the entrance with space for bells lends a truly elegant look. A Christian prayer room or area generally has no doors and is an open space.
Wood-carved calligraphy and wall art with Quranic inscriptions have been the traditional paraphernalia of Islamic décor in Muslim households. Wall decals or vinyl stickers have emerged as the new décor idea for calligraphic art. Although there is no restriction on the place for offering prayer, setting aside a spot in a room that is away from the hustle and bustle may help in maintaining high standards of hygiene and also upholding the sanctity of prayers.
Idols, Images & Paraphernalia
For idols, you have varied options available in the market — frames, artefacts, sculpture, murals and wall-art. The price ranges from anywhere between Rs 100 and Rs 5 lakh. In times of space crunch, the challenge is to ensure enough space for candle stands, diyas, thalis, kalash and other items. Pleasing flower arrangement makes for sprightly spaces. Ganesha Idol occupies a place of prime importance in most Hindu households. The selection of the size of idol should invariably depend on the size of the space. The colour and material will depend on the accompanying paraphernalia and the structure of the altar.
Keep it Tidy
As goes the old adage, “Cleanliness is next to Godliness”, nothing can be more pleasing to the eye than a well-kept worship room. Have shelves and cabinets designed so you can keep all the paraphernalia in an organised manner. A storage space for the sundry and spare items is essential to keep things in place. A pooja mandir crafted in teak or sandal wood can have drawers to accommodate vermillion and turmeric holders, diyas, incense sticks and other such items. For the Catholic altar, a compact wooden cabinet works out quite well. With the holy idol/image mounted on the wall, the rest other paraphernalia can be organised accordingly. An elegant brass Crucifix with candle holders, rosary box, brass flower vase can be arranged on the top and the cabinet below can be used to keep the holy books, spare candles, rosaries and other images.
Make your prayer room look welcoming and inviting so that it’s not relegated only for performing rituals but is a space where you can enjoy moments of solitude.