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New House Puja: An Indian Housewarming

My sister in law and her husband recently bought a new three bedroom apartment. For the past month, my brother in law (who’s an interior designer) has been doing it up. With completion near, it was time for the housewarming puja.

In Hindu homes, this puja (Griha Pravesh) is considered very important to remove evil spirits, protect against the evil eye, and bring in happiness and prosperity.

My husband and I arrived just after the puja had started at 2 p.m. The fact that it had commenced on time, and had taken over the whole of the living room, indicated serious business. The pandit who had performed our wedding was there, accompanied by two assistants. But what really astonished me was the amount and assortment of paraphernalia, all apparently having a specific meaning and purpose.

I was fascinated, and wanted to settle in and watch it. Instead, the rest of the family dragged me reluctantly away to go out for lunch. However, if I’d known that the puja would continue for the next five, yes five, hours, I wouldn’t have been so concerned!

On the way back from lunch, my other sister in law and I discovered that some mehendi artists had set up on the roadside. “Get it done,” she urged. One of the joys of India is never knowing what you’ll come across, so it didn’t take much to persuade me. The emerging mehendi design on my feet replaced thoughts of the puja for the next half an hour.

Much to my surprise, when we finally returned to the house, not only was the puja still going strong with the pandit reciting mantras from his book, it was about to step up to a whole new level. Preparations were underway to light the holy fire for the havan (Vedic fire ritual). One of the assistants pulled a large handful of wood from a nearby bag, and stoked it up.

Soon, the living room was filled with eye-watering smoke. If there were any evil spirits remaining there, I’m sure it would’ve driven them out because I definitely had to leave!

The havan drew to a close with an aarti and singing two hours later. The stamina of these panditjis really can’t be underestimated! At this point, guests had started pouring in to look at the house, and of course eat. The house is enviably stunning, decorated in warm classy tones. My brother in law is a talented guy. And of course my sister in law couldn’t stop smiling, with all her dreams for a big and beautiful home come true. It was a very happy day.

Visit Sharell's Blog 'Diary of a White Indian Housewife' at for many more interesting experiences.