Why do we have a prayer room/altar at home?
Hindus believe that God is the creator and sustainer. To show our gratitude to God and offer prayers, a prayer room or altar is usually set up at home. It is the home temple that you can ‘visit’ every day.
A lamp is lit daily and spiritual practices such as Japa (chanting the Lord’s name), scriptural reading, meditation, prayers, devotional singing, offering of food and arati are performed by the members of the family. Special worship is done on auspicious occasions like birthdays, anniversaries and festivals. Each member of the family, young or old, communes with and worships the divine in front of the altar. The aarti and the incense offered focuses our hearts on worship.
Generally, each room in a home is dedicated to a specific function like the bedroom for resting, the living room to receive guests, the kitchen for cooking, etc. The furniture, decor and the atmosphere of each room are made conducive to the purpose it serves. Similarly, for the purpose of meditation, worship and prayer, we have a conducive atmosphere in the form of a prayer room or altar at home.
The spiritual thoughts and devotional vibrations accumulated through daily worship, meditation and chanting pervade the prayer room or altar area and the whole house. By sitting in the prayer room (or at the altar), one feels calm, rejuvenated and spiritually elevated.