Re: Setup of POOJA ALTAR
Here are some guidelines/practices that I know of/found out in the Net. It is evident that we cannot follow all the rules and regulations (or even know to what extent they are right), so let us go by what we are convinced about and can achieve best.
Puja room: Vastu guidelines
• The puja room is best located at the NE corner of the house in terms of Vastu. A water source such as the well, is also best located at the NE of the house plot.
• Other desired directions for location of the puja room are East or North, but not South.
• If it is a very big plot the puja room can be constructed in the center of the plot or center of the building.
• Puja room or shrine should not be located in the bedroom.
• Puja room should not be above electrical appliances or gas stoves.
• Puja room wall should not touch or share the same wall as the toilet. Ensure that the toilet is not adjoining the puja room, not opposite, and not even above or below the prayer room.
• Puja room and shrine should be immaculately clean and neat; avoid dirt or clutter and keep it fragrant.
• Puja room should always be on the ground floor and never in the basement.
• The roof of the puja room should be lower in comparison to the other rooms on the same floor. One can use false ceiling for the same, if major renovation not possible. It is beneficial to build a threshold at the entrance of the puja room.
• White or light yellow marble work in the room is auspicious. The color of the walls can be white, light yellow or light blue.
• The doors of the puja room should not close or open automatically. A spring or door-closer should not be fixed on this door.
• The materials required for the Puja or the Puja Samigri should be kept in the South East direction. The puja room should not be used as a store for other materials. Any item, showpiece, images of god etc. removed from puja room for any reason should not be kept elsewhere in the house, and should be properly 'visarjit' (disposed of) in a river.
• If you are forced to have your prayer in the kitchen, have your deity in the North-east of the kitchen, facing west. Never have the prayer area in the bedroom.
Puja room shrine
The puja room shrine is usually a shelf with wooden/concrete or Cuddapah/marble/granite stone partitions with an altar at the bottom of the shelf for doing puja. It is convenient to have the shelf closed with doors which can have decorative perforations to hang little bells that chime as you open or close the doors. The bells can also chimed during a puja, in addition to chiming the bell exclusively used in pujas.
• If a mandir (shrine) is built of wood, steel etc. the top of the shrine should never be pointed/sharp.
• The image or portrait of the Kula Devata (family deity) as well as the IShTa Devata (preferred deity) should have prominent places in the puja room. Since Ganesha is worshipped first in all pujas, it is customary to place his image or portrait too in a prominent position. Portraits of other Gods are placed according to preferences and convenience.
• Since we do puja sitting on the floor of the room, it is convenient to have the images/portraits we do puja to, in the bottom row of the shrine. The image/portrait we do puja to may be taken out and placed on the altar (that usually prutrudes the bottom compartments of the shrine-shelf, decorated and worshipped. Where this is not possible, puja can be done to the portrait in its own area in the shrine, although some pujas might have regulations regarding placement of image/portrait.
• East and the north are the two acceptable orientations for the base of Shiva lingam in any temple as stipulated in Agama Shastra. So the base Shiva lingam is noticed either facing East or North direction in any temple. While the devotee, who is worshipping Shiva Lingam is facing the East the base of Shiva Lingam shall be oriented towards north dirction. When the disciple is facing north while worshipping, the base of Shiva Lingam shall be oriented towards East. Base here shall mean the point from where the Abhishek liquid (Water or Panchamrit) flows out of Shiva Lingam.
• The images/portraits of Gods may face any direction except South. Images should not be kept facing each other. Broken images and torn pictures should not be kept in the puja room. We should not face South as we prostrate to the deities.
• The faces of god should not be covered with anything including garlands and flowers.
• If a lamp is placed in the puja room, it should always be in front of the god.
• No bell should be hung in the puja room.
• Never place any photographs to dead people in the pooja room.
रत्नाकरधौतपदां हिमालयकिरीटिनीम् ।
ब्रह्मराजर्षिररत्नाढ्यां वन्दे भारतमातरम् ॥
To her whose feet are washed by the ocean, who wears the Himalayas as her crown, and is adorned with the gems of rishis and kings, to Mother India, do I bow down in respect.