Housewarming – what it means to treat your home as sacred

When my husband and I bought the house we have lived in for the last two years (our first), we couldn’t have predicted how much of 2020 we would spend inside its walls…

In that time, it has been our haven, our prison and everything in between. But I’m grateful every day for having a space that is safe, a space from which to navigate the wild realities we have encountered this year.

A Hindu blessing ceremony for our new home

When we first moved in a couple of years ago, we asked a Hindu priest to come and conduct a blessing for our new home. We wanted to mark this milestone and invite our families in, to help bless the space with their presence and their good wishes.

We also wanted to honour and continue a family tradition. My husband’s late mother, whom we both adored, had a Hindu house blessing in her own home several years ago. It was conducted entirely in Sanskrit and Gujarati, by the elderly father of the priest who later conducted our Hindu wedding ceremony. It felt like a tribute to Sam’s beloved mum for us to do the same in our own home, especially given that we wouldn’t have been able to afford a home at all if it wasn’t for her.

The blessing ceremony

The ritual of the occasion began in the days running up to the blessing. The priest had tasked us with sourcing a selection of items from coconuts to fresh paan leaves to kindling for the small but very real fire that we would light in our living room for the ceremony.

And on a cold, clear Sunday morning in February, our families gathered. Many of us donned our saris and salwars. Coffees and teas were served up by my very kind sister-in-law as the priest got himself prepared, and there was an atmosphere of anticipation.

The ceremony involved committing special items such as water and rice to the sacred fire. The priest blessed my husband and I and tied cotton sutras, or threads, around our wrists. First, the elephant god Ganesh, the remover of obstacles, was invoked, requesting his assistance in allowing the ceremony to proceed unhindered. Then the priest led us in 108 prayers to the goddess, seeking her blessing and protection for the home. Our family members were invited to join and pray with us through these rounds of prayer.

When the ceremony was over, the spell of the ritual was broken, chatter erupted and we all gathered round to eat the various curry dishes Sam and I had prepared. We served food up on a makeshift mish-mash of plates and repeatedly washed glasses and cutlery because we didn’t have enough for everyone yet.

Your home is sacred, because you do life there, and life is sacred

Having a house blessing doesn’t make your home sacred – it reminds you that your home is already a holy space, and invites more of that energy in. And our family members blessed the space purely by being there to create new memories with us.

I love the idea of treating every space we inhabit as sacred. Sanctity has traditionally been considered a quality bestowed upon a space such as a church or temple. But I no longer believe sacredness is a quality set apart from everyday life. It’s something that glimmers within the mundane. Sacredness is a quality we bring to bear upon everything we touch, because to be sacred means simply to be touched with aliveness.

Sam and I were blessed to have the Indian Hindu traditions of his ancestors to draw upon to bless our home. It was wonderful to summon the full power of prayer, fire, family and of course food, to bless our new home.

You don’t need a faith or a guide to bless your own spaces. You might:
  • Light a candle or incense and move through your home, inviting in the things you’d like to see happen there in the future: joy, fun, sex, togetherness, peace
  • Simply lay hands on the door to your home, or the walls and thank it for the ways in which it has held you during this time and asking its help in meeting your needs in the months to come
  • You might play your favourite song at full volume and just dance. You might open all the windows and physically fling the energy of the days that have past out, and welcome in something new. And who cares how it looks?

Your living situation doesn’t have to be perfect, or your ideal, before you can bless it. In fact, even better to bless it when it isn’t. Blessing a space invites a sense of gratitude for what you have and a little forbearance for what you find hard.

How can you bless your own spaces?

As we in England navigate a second lockdown, and as we all approach a new year which holds more uncertainty in store, I invite you to consider how you might acknowledge the ways in which your living space has held you during this time. How might you honour the moments of grief, joy, loneliness and connection the space has facilitated? How might you invite what no longer serves you to leave, and create space for new things to enter in?

Dear ones, let me know in the comments.

I’ve made a small donation to Refuge, to honour & help those who aren’t safe in their homes at this time.

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