Compiled by London Swaminathan
Date: 25 October 2016
Time uploaded in London: 9-43 AM
Pictures are taken from various sources; thanks. They are used for representational purpose. They may not have direct connection to the article below.
Yesterday I gave an excerpt from Arthur Miles’ book. Today I give a detailed description of Gruha Pravesa from Rev. J E Padfield’s book The Hindu At Home, Year 1908
Good Period to occupy a House
“I shall now proceed to state the considerations necessary, from a religious point of view, before the householder venture to occupy the house which he is supposed to have built. The first thing that has to be considered is the proper time of year for taking up residence in the new abode. On this point there is a little difference of opinion amongst Hindu authorities.
According to some persons, if a house is newly occupied in Vaishakham, the owner will be blessed with many sons; if in Jyéshtam, he will have abundance of joyous festivities, such as marriages and the like if the house is newly occupied in Phalgunam, the owner will be blessed with wealth. if in Magham he will have good crops and much happiness. On the other hand, there are those who maintain that, although all the other months in the vernal equinox (Uttarayanam) during which the sun is north of the equator, are good for newly entering into a house, Magham is not a propitious month. This difference of opinion is chiefly between the Tamils, who reckon by the solar system, and the Telugus, who go according to the lunar. All, however, are agreed that it is most un propitious to enter a new abode for the first time during any month of the second half of the year.
Decoration of the House
A suitable day for entering having been duly fixed upon, the house is adorned in various ways, chiefly by smearing saffron and kunkuma on the lintels and door posts of all the doors in the house, and tying over them a garland of flowers and leaves of the mango or of the neredu tree (eugenia jambos/rose apple tree). A company assembles consisting of the members of the family relatives, friends and a number of Brahmin pundits, band of native musicians and a group of dancing girls may also be in attendance, all of course in proportion to the means of the householder. A procession is formed from the house then inhabited by the owner to his new abode. As the company passes along, the band plays and every now and then the company will stop before the house of a friend or that of some great person, when the dancing women will go through their performance of dancing and singing to the sound of a kind of harp and cymbals, and beating of the tom-tom. The thing is so arranged that the procession arrives at the house at the propitious moment, before fixed upon, when they all enter walking over grain that has been spread in the door way and all along to the western side of the central portion of the house.
Worship is then performed to Ganésha, Vastu- purusha, Venkatéshvara and other gods, after which the family priest makes the following declaration in the name of the house-owner, concluding with a prayer The declaration is:
On an auspicious day, under a lucky star,
At a fortunate moment of time, (He must enter) his new and beautiful home, (It being) decorated with flowers and tender leaves.
He must enter accompanied by relatives, Brahmins and others,
(And worship) Vignésh vara and all other gods, With hymns of praise.”
Sudine suba nakshatre suba lagne subamsake
Nutane svagruhe ramie pushpapallavaranjite
Praviset bandhu mitrascaiva brahmane parivaritah
Vignesam sarvadevamsca svasti vachanapurvakam
The prayer is
“O God of gods! O great God Be gracious unto us, o supreme God!
Preserve us, O preserve us,
Lord of the universe!
Yea ever more preserve us
Home happiness and domestic joys
Do thou ever increase unto us
Devadeva Mahadeva prasida paramesvara
Raksha Raksha jagannatha savanasmanirantaram
Gruhasaukyam kutumbasya mamavardhaya sampratam
After this is over, presents of cloths and jewels, a cording to the ability of the house-owner are given to the chief workmen who have been engaged in the erection of the building. It is now quite a custom in India for chief workmen to be thus rewarded, and even some Europeans follow the ideas of the country so far as to give a jewel or two to the chief workmen after any important building work is finished. The ceremonies of the day are concluded with a blessing after the following manner. A metal dish with coloured rice is produced, and some of the attendant Brahmins take a handful of this and having repeated mantrams, cast the rice into the cloth of the house-owner who holds up a corner of it for the purpose. This blessing consisting of quotations from the Vedas is a very long one. The concluding portion only is here given. The translation, in this case, is a rather free one :
May thy life continue for a hundred years, and may thy mental and physical powers remain perfect for a hundred years.
Satamanam bhavati. Satayuh purushah. Satendriya. Ayushyevendriye. Pratishtati.
The family priest then takes the rice, by handfuls, and pours it on the heads of the house-owner, his wife his children and any relatives who may be present. On the following day there is a feast in the new house and, if the guests are numerous, an awning may be put up in the yard to accommodate them. When the owner is not a Brahmin, his Brahmin guests will receive their portion of the feast in an uncooked form, and this they will take away with them to cook in their own houses.
on an occasion of this kind, all castes,even Brahmins, will give food to all sorts of people, but the principal guests are relatives and friends. With this feasting the house-warming is concluded.
There are various things that cause a house to become defiled. Some of these are only trifling, such as bees settling in the house, or an owl, or a certain kind of kite settling upon it or flying into it, or any fungus growing anywhere inside. These necessitate a minor kind of purification. The great defilement is caused by death. If any other than one of the chief members of the family is at the point of death, his relatives carry him out of the house into the outer verandah, or some such place. The reason for this may be seen from the following idea. There are twenty-seven lunar mansions (nakshatram), of which fourteen are disastrous and thirteen auspicious. Should a person die inside the house during any one of the fourteen inauspicious periods, the house must be abandoned by the whole family and left vacant for two, three, or six months, according to the particular star then in the ascendant. If, however, the death takes place outside the house, in the outer verandah for instance, only that portion must be divided off and abandoned for the set period. If the death takes place during any of the auspicious periods, the house only has the ordinary contamination of the family and is, with them, purified on the eleventh day after the death It will be thus seen that it is a very risky thing for anyone to die inside a house, as the good or bad periods are only known though in the case of the heads of the household the risk is usually run, sometimes the dying patient will ask to be taken outside to avoid possible trouble to the family.
Defilement and Purification
After any defilement the house is purified in the following manner, portions of the ceremony or the whole being performed according to its relative importance.
The most important purification is when, after temporary abandonment, the family again comes into residence. The house is thoroughly cleaned up and probably white washed. The family assemble, with their family priest and several other Brahmins or friends. Ganésha, under the name of Vighnesha, is worshipped. Water is poured into a vessel (kalasam), which is adorned with flowers, sandal, and the like, and this having been worshipped and all the gods having been invoked, the water is sprinkled by the priest over the various parts of the house and over the people present.
Food is then cooked and partaken of by the company. The following are specimens of the slokas or verses repeated by the priest in the worship of the kalasam; they are a declaration and a prayer.
The declaration is
“This puny havachanam rite Is holy and destroys sin.
It is for the purification of a house, the body and other things
And also for that of the mind
The Ganges with all other holy rivers,
And all the gods, rishis, and ancients,
Also the Vedas and sacrifices
Having been invoked into these vessels (now before us),
Which is having adorned and worshipped
With sandal flowers and coloured rice.
He must pray to the supreme God
That all his desires may be fulfilled
Punyahavachanam karma pavitram papanasanam
Gruhadehadi sudhyartham atmasudhyarthameva ca
Gangadi punyatirthani devan sarvan rsin pitrun
Avahya kalasamgresu vedan yajnan visodhakan
Gandhapushpakshatairevam alankrutya prapujya ca
Prarthayetparamatmanam sarvabhista palaptaye
The prayer is
I am a sinner ;all my deeds are sinful.
I am of a sinful mind; I am born in sin.
O God in mercy save me!
Thou who art merciful to those who flee to thee
There is no sinner equal to me:
There is no deliverer like unto thee.
Ever knowing me to be a sinner,
As is thy pleasure, so do.
Papoham papakarmaham papatma papasambavah
Trahimam krupaya deva saranagatavatsala
Matsama patako nasti tvatsamo nasti mocakah
Papinam mam sada njatva yatheccasi tatha kuru
A purification ceremony is gone through if the well becomes ceremonially contaminated
There are various other occasions calling for purification. A robber might break into a house and go into the kitchen, and as he would probably be a low caste man, the full purification ceremony would be
Necessary. If a dog or any other unclean animal were to die in or near the house, the place must be purified by sprinkling water mixed with cow dung, or with cow’s urine. This is a minor purification which is often resorted to for lesser defilements.
Doubtless home life, true domestic happiness, is much influenced by the immediate surroundings; but, after all, habit and custom are much if not everything in such matters, and certainly many an Indian home is happy in spite of what may seem to us its dullness and monotony.
The old English proverb which says that “Home is home be it ever so homely” expresses a truth that can be applied in many ways it is the hearts that make the home. What must be deplored, however, is the hard bondage to superstition that is so evident in every page of this description.