Sacred Space

As some wise man had once rightly said, “Money can fill your stomach, but it can’t buy you happiness.” The quote holds true especially in today’s age when financial studies indicate that even the nouveau riche in the country, with considerable sums of dispensable income, are experiencing an inner-void. On returning home after a long, stressful workday, it becomes difficult to make quiet time for oneself given the chatter of family members, the playful banter of children, the constant beeping of apps on your smart-phone and the sounds of the doorbell ringing.

India has traditionally been a soul country where ashrams, religious festivals and holy shrines attract thousands of travellers from across the world, in search of spirituality and deeper meaning. It is not uncommon to see a mandir or prayer-room adorned with garlands and lamps in a quiet corner of most Indian homes that pays homage to the patron deity of the household. While some make it part of an existing room, the pious increasingly choose to offer a separate room to the divine. After all, God is also a family member whose presence demands shutting out trivial distractions from the everyday world.

Yoga and meditation have never had as many followers as they do today. Medical research shows that people with a regular spiritual practice enjoy better health given the holistic benefits of prayer and chanting; improved heart rate, mood and immunity boosts, lower blood pressure, increased metabolism and induced states of relaxation, among others. Irrespective of what your reasons are to connect with your inner-self, here are a few tips on how to create a sacred space:


Prayer rooms need to be soundproofed and so choose an area with minimal distractions. Check your family requirements with regards to space during festivals and religious gatherings. While prayer is a solitary activity for some, for many Indian homes it a community ritual that involves extended family, friends and neighbors. Do not worry if you do not have a separate room to delegate — bamboo blinds, string curtains and shoji screens make wonderful dividers. Be inventive, unused closets, gardens, storage areas, attics, even the area under the staircase can all be transformed to suit the purpose.


The colour of your walls for your prayer room really set the mood of the room. Consider whether you prefer vibrant colors that you find uplifting and energising, or soft and neutral tones to create a more peaceful, calm atmosphere. Turn to your religion for colour symbolism to see if there is a particular colour you would like to feature.


Plush carpeting keeps heels from clacking should someone walk in, and it will help muffle the sounds in the room to keep the atmosphere more quiet and prayerful. If you can’t install wall to wall carpeting in your prayer room, put down a thick rug. If kneeling or sitting on the floor is part of your prayer routine, scatter floor cushions and yoga mats around to make the space more comfortable.


The most important aspect to consider is creating an altar that serves a focal point that the rest of the meditation space revolves around. It could either be a shelf or a stand that your deity or Holy Book is placed upon. Decorate the space with symbols and iconography that support your religious and cultural beliefs. A simple statue or an inspirational wall hanging could work as well


Scents can calm the mind instantly. Light some scented candles, incense or aroma oils that will instill a feeling of Zen into anyone who steps into the space.


The presence of flowers and indoor plants can be rejuvenating. Vases of flowers, garlands and even growing indoor plants can liven up the ambience of the room.