Traditions & Customs -
New Home – புது மனை
The new family grows and at some point in their life they will need a house of their own. Sometimes the dowry given to the bride may include a piece of land; else they buy a piece of land. Even when choosing a land to build a house there was guidelines as to the suitability of this land to live in. For example you would not build a house opposite a temple or in water logged and damp land. A land containing useful fruit trees are highly suitable. When they take possession of the land, it is done on an auspicious day and time. Before anything can be done in the land, Vairavar shanthi - a pooja to remove defects, curses and faults in the land is performed.
If there was no well in the land, digging starts on an auspicious day and time at a spot selected by the astrologers so you find good drinking water. There are guidelines in choosing the spot where the well is dug like the position of the kitchen in the house and the direction of water streams flow in the neighbourhood etc.
A sketch for the house is done and the astrologer will look at it as to the suitability depending on the horoscopes of the man and his wife and may make recommendations for alterations. If all parties agree, a mason and a carpenter are appointed to build the house. Everything is done on auspicious time.
Every house will have a main room which will be used for prayers and other things. This room represents the whole house. Auspiciously everything is done about this house in this room. The foundation is placed at auspicious time with the help of mason and a respected person in the community or an elder relative of both parties lays the foundation stone. A pit is dug at the point where the foundation stone is to be laid and this is usually the north eastern corner called ‘Eesaanamoolai' (ஈசான மூலை) of the main room with offerings made to god and breaking of coconut. Various things like five precious stones, nine grains are also buried with it and the whole thing is covered with cement. After the ceremony, the mason receives a small gift and cash.
The mason starts building the house foundation and starts work on the walls. The door frame will be fixed to the main room on an auspicious day and time. The walls get completed with all the door frames fitted in their right places when the roof is to be done. All this time the carpenters who worked on the door frames would have got the roof also ready. Work on the roof will start on an auspicious time and then the house gets completed.
House warming - கிரகபிரவேசம்
On an auspicious day and time which is decided by the astrologers depending on the birth star of the head of the family, relatives are invited for the grand Kiraha Piravesam - House warming ceremony. The new house is cleaned and washed by the masons and his workers. The ceremony begins with the arrival of the carpenters who will cook milk rice in the main room and offer to gods with breaking of coconut. They then hand over the keys of doors mainly of that main room to the landlord symbolising handing over of the house to its owners and this key is left in the main room. The cooked rice is shared by the masons and carpenters. Then all these people leave the house after receiving their cash gifts from the landlords.
Then the priest arrives and performs the Shanthi Pooja to remove all evil eyes of the new house and for prosperity. A white pumpkin is hung at the entrance of the house for anyone to look at it rather than cast an evil eye on the house. He lights up a bundle of straw made in the form of a man, and this is pulled along every room of the house and ultimately round the exterior of the house and left on the streets. This is supposed to kill any evil eye and evil tongue. A cow is also tied to the front of the house. The priest blesses the house by sprinkling holy water everywhere in and out of the house and hands over the keys to the landlord who in turn gives to his wife. They then close the door and open them again at the auspicious time and enter the room.
On the previous day, one or three pictures of deity along with mirror, lamp, whole coconut, money box with money and gold, dresses, salt, rice and turmeric etc are kept at a pooja in a nearby temple and the priest at that temple carries out a pooja when he blesses the pictures. All these items except the deity pictures are brought to the new home from the old home in order to bring back the luck and friendly ancestors into the new home. A group of people go to the temple and bring all these things to the new house. As they enter the house they bypass the cow tied at the entrance.
These pictures are placed in a secure area in that room. The priest then blesses the pictures and the house and the landlord and land lady and their children by sprinkling water which had been blessed. The whole coconut is planted in the garden. After he leaves, the guests may give presents and leave. Some houses the guests are given a meal if the time is suitable. In some houses Nathaswaram will be in attendance.