By Swami Harshananda
Gṛhapraveśa literally means ‘entering a new house’.
All the people live their life according to the directions given in the religion. It includes personal cleanliness and hygiene as a part of daily routine. It includes regulations of every action performed by a person in his life.
Building a new house and entering it is one of the most important occasions in the life of a gṛhastha or a householder. Hence it has to be done in the religiously prescribed manner. The gṛhyasutras and the dharmaśāstras prescribe elaborate procedures for this ceremony which is called ‘gṛhapraveśa’ or ceremonially entering the house. When Lakṣmaṇa built a parṇa-kuṭi (a thatched house) for Rāma, Sītā and himself to live in Citrakuṭa, an elaborate gṛhapraveśa ceremony was performed.
Types of Gṛhapraveśa
A gṛhapraveśa is of four types:
- Entering an old house by the new master who has acquired it.
- Entering a renovated house by the same owner.
- Entering a newly built house by its owner.
- Entering one’s own (old) house after a long lapse of time due to pilgrimage and so on.
Among all the reasons the third one is celebrated in gala manner. It is referred as gṛhapraveśa in the true sense. Before performing gṛhapraveśa, an auspicious day, according to the traditional religious calendar has to be fixed. On the previous night of gṛhapraveśa, Rākṣoghna-homa has to be performed to ward off the evil spirits that might have been living there since a long time.
Ceremony of Gṛhapraveśa
- In gṛhapraveśa one should first worship Vāstupuruṣa, the cosmic man embodying the whole creation, including the different deities of the religious pantheon.
- For this, a Vāstumaṇḍala has to be drawn at an appropriate place in the house and decorated with colored powders.
- This has to be followed by Vāstu-homa, worship of the Navagrahas (the nine planets), worship of Gaṇapati, the lord of (and destroyer of) obstacles.
- Then a purṇāhuti (the final oblation) ritual is performed to complete the puja.
- A long cotton thread is then wound around the house thrice to make it secure. This is called ‘digbandhana’ or ‘locking the quarters’.
- Then it is followed by balis or offerings to the guardian deities like Indra. A bali is offered to the Vāstupuruṣa also.
- Then the owner has to ceremonially enter the house along with his wife.
- The procession should comprise instrumental music, Vedic chanting, purṇakumbha (holy water pot), certain auspicious materials like milk and butter, suvāsinīs (married ladies whose husbands are alive), images of gods, images of the family deities, a cow and its calf.
- The cow and the calf are taken in first and led up to the place where the family shrine is to be established.
- After establishing the family deities there, a simple worship is done.
- The brāhmaṇa priests are then honored and given presents.
- Guests are also fed sumptuously.
Writing of Om (Praṇava), the Svastika symbol, letters and words like ‘śrīh,’ ‘gaṇeśāya namah’ (preferably in Sanskrit) on the walls of the new house as also boiling milk in a pot and make it overflow are other local customs present in some parts of the country.
- Rāmāyana, Ayodhyākānda, 56.22-35
- Vāstumaṇḍala is a geometrical drawing, square in shape, containing 9 x 9 = 81 small squares
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore