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8. Kārteekam 9. Mārgasirām 10. Pushyam 11. Māgham 12. Phālgunam
October, November Complete happiness.
Danger of fire,
The proper time for commencing the work having been decided upon, the difficulty as to the aspect has to be settled, and this can only be decided by the following consideration. A deity called Vāstupurusha is said to preside over the science of building. This being is said to migrate between the three worlds, suarga (heaven), marthya (this world), and pātāla (hell), and to be always in a reclining posture, but changing his position at different times of the year; for instance, during certain months of the year his head will be turned towards the north, and at other times towards other points of the compass. A house should not, when the building of it is commenced, face towards the feet of Vástupurusha or where his eyes may
fall upon it, from which it follows that if a certain aspect is desired, building operations must commence at a period of the year when either of the above contingencies may be avoided, owing to the position in which the deity may be then reclining.
Another thing to be considered will depend upon which side of the road or street the house site may be. According to the Vastu Shāstram, it is good to build towards the north, or east, but bad, towards the south, or west. If, therefore, the housebuilder should have a site large enough to enable him to comply with the Shāstra he will not build his house right up to the road, if it will face towards the south or west ; he will in that event build some distance back from the road or street and have only a blank wall with a door in it by the road side. In towns or crowded localities where the area of sites may be limited, this point may not always be complied with, through lack of space, but, where it is feasible, and especially in country-places, where space is not so valuable, I fancy this rule of the Shāstram is generally attended to.
The aspect of the new house, and the proper time for the commencement of operations having been duly fixed
upon, the next thing is the excavations for the foundations, and the performing of a ceremony somewhat analogous to that of laying the foundation stone of a public building in Europe. A good time of the day having been fixed upon by astrology, the owner of the house, together with his wife, who must be present, and the purõhita or family priest, and any others, assemble for the foundation-laying ceremony. After worshipping Ganesha, without propitiating whom nothing of importance can ever be undertaken, a piece of stick called shankhu, about a foot long, which has been cut into a certain prescribed sbape by the carpenter, is planted in the north-east corner of the foundation of the main building. Into the place where this is planted, various kinds of grain, and metals, are thrown, together with flowers, and leaves, and coloured rice, and the whole is then worshipped. This coloured rice (akshata) enters largely into all religious ceremonies. In fact, no worship, other than that at fuperals, or that in any way, connected with the dead can be performed without this coloured rice being used. It is coloured red with a mixture of turmeric and slaked lime in water. The idea appears to be that the stick, by this ceremony (pratishta), becomes animated with the spirit of the god Vāstupurusha, who is thereafter the good genius of the house. At this ceremony the following slokams among others are repeated :
1. शंकुदेव नमस्तेस्तु
2. त्वदाधारं गृहस्थानं
श्रीकरं देवनिर्मितं ।
त्वद्विना गृह निर्माणं
1. O Thou Shanku god, we adore thee.
Thou art formed of hard khadiri wood.
Thou art made according to the Vastu-Shāstram. 2. Thou art the stay of the dwelling ;
Art by God appointed, and givest prosperity.
At the putting up of the main doorway, and again when the ridge-piece is put up, religious ceremonies are performed; as also at the digging of the well, and when the family first take possession. These ceremonies will now be described in due order.
The principal entrance to the house, the front door, is called simhadwāram (the lion entrance). The woodwork of this is always more or less carved, sometimes most elaborately so. There are two cross pieces laid across the top corners of the door frame. These pieces are not used in English buildings, therefore there is no English name for them. They are called the horse-stools, because upon them are laid the cross pieces which support the wall above. This is instead of an arch, and it must be borne in mind that, until recent years, most of the walls were built with mud, or with sun dried bricks. These two cross pieces are always carved into some shape or other, to represent lions, elephants, horses or parrots, according to the fancy of the owner. The putting up of this entrance door frame is always a serious business, and pecessitates a religious ceremony. The woodwork is smeared with saffron, and adorned with red powder (kunkuma), and flowers, besides a kind of garland made of leaves of the mango tree. As Kunkuma is much used in worship, and in all kinds of Hindu ceremonies, in which women are associated, it may be as well to mention here that it is a red powder made of turmeric, alum, and lime juice. Worship is then actually performed to the wood by repeating certain prayers, and sprinkling it with sandal paste and coloured rice. The following are specimens of slokams or prayers on such occasions :
1. द्वारशाखाः सुसंबद्धा
2. हरिद्राकुङ्कुमैः पुष्पैः
3. एवं संस्थाप्य द्वाराणि
1. O door frame, with parts fitted tightly together,
According to Vāstushāstra rule.
2. With saffron, turmeric, flowers,
And sandal being well adored,
3. Thus having fixed the door frame
With clasped hands and circumambulations,
The next religious ceremony takes place when the ridge-plate is put into position; this too being worshipped in much the same way as the door frame. Whilst lying upon the ground, across two pieces of timber, it is adorned with saffron, and flowers, and garlands, and worsbip is done to it, after which it is put into position. The following are specimens of the prayers used;
1. गृहाधाराः पृष्ठशाखाः
पूजिताः पुष्पचंदनैः ।
2. यद्विना गृहसंस्थानं
संनिवेशं न शोभते ।
1. O ridge-plate, support of the house,
Having been adored with flowers and sandal,