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Hindus/Hindu Prayer space


Good afternoon,

I'm an architecture student from the Architecture School of Lisbon (FA UTL) and I am currently working on my masters degree which is about religious architecture, more precisely a multi-faith centre. This centre is supposed to be a step into inter-religious dialogue and mutual respect. One could call it a center for inter-faith tolerance and peace.
This building offers a space to accommodate different religions for seminars, conventions, gatherings, or any other event and respects the different traditions and costumes, therefore, it also offers the visitors the possibility of a praying/meditating space appropriate to their beliefs. It's this part of the project I need guidance with.

The information I have acquired so far is confusing and hard to summarize, so, with that in mind, I am using this e-mail to call for your help regarding some difficult questions, in my view, that might not be as difficult for you to answer, since you are an expert:

1. What are the needs for a hindu sacred/worship space? Physical or otherwise.
(For example: contact with nature, sun orientation, altars  silence, any other relevant symbols or physical needs)

2. Do these elements/needs diverge from one type/practice of hinduism to a different one ?

3. What is the difference between a hindu temple and a prayer room? Can a prayer room be collective or is it strictly for praying at home?

4. I would like to create a space where a number of hindus could practice their daily rituals for a short period of time (during the time they would be visiting the multi-faith center), like, a week, at most. It should be integrated in the building so the traditional aesthetics of a hindu temple, especially the exterior decorations and shape would be difficult to obtain. Could it be a collective prayer room? If not, what would be the best option here? And following what principles to create this space?

4. I believe there are different variations and practices of hinduism. Can these co-exist in the same worship space?

5. If not, could they do it in the same space only in different schedules?

The answer to these questions can be of a great help to me and my project, specially since I am having trouble finding reliable and direct information regarding this subject.

Thank you very much, I appreciate any collaboration given regarding this theme.
Looking forward for your answer,
Best wishes,

Ana Maria Silva

3 deity temple
3 deity temple  
Dear Ana Maria,

Kindly check this: [IMG][/IMG]

You can find many Hindu temple plans, old and new, at Google.

This is the basic structure of a Hindu temple, where the deity idol is generally placed in the east. The deity enclosure (suare/octagonal) with a door (termed as Garbhagriha, the womb) and a hall (Jaganmohan, Mandapa, or Sabhagara - assembly hall, generally square but no problem if octagonal) outside where devotees can gather, participate in worship, or meditate, or laze around, gossip, or males oggling the female devotees (all that happens in a Hindu temple). The inner enclosure may have a passage around it for circumambulation. Since you want it to be a part of a multi-faith Center, you may remove the entrance in the West so that it opens into a larger hall.

Since there are many deities in Hinduism, many a times enclosures and circumambulation spaces for different deities are placed in a row (as in Birla Temple, New Delhi). But if space is limited, different enclosures can be dispensed with and the idols places in a line. With best regards,

Yours sincerely,



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Especially religious history of India. I follow 'advaita' philosophy (non-duality) and am an atheist. My answers would be consistent with science and practicality.


Explaining Hinduism for about 8 years.


Science graduate. Extensive studies of hindu scriptures.

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