The Vasthu Vibe

Keeping the gods happy is the key to designing flowing, open spaces that swirl with good energy


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Yama, the god of death, resides in the South. He prevents the evil eye from taking control of our lives. In India, people put a ghoulish pumpkin mask, similar to Halloween masks, in Yama's position to ward off the evil eye. In America, I put my collection of masks from Uganda, Korea, Thailand, Indonesia, and India all across the southern wall.

Niruthi, who prevents homes from being robbed, dwells in the southwest corner. In that corner, behind our TV cabinet, I placed a pot containing our spare house keys as well as some costume jewelry, loose change and an expired checkbook. I wanted Niruthi to watch over my jewels, money and bank account. To be safe, I also kept our car keys, photographs of my family, and the instruction manual of the new digital camera that my husband had bought and loved. If Niruthi was going to keep things for us, I wanted him to protect our car, our home, and most importantly, ourselves.

Varuna, the god of water, lies to the West, where the bathroom should be. The only problem was that my kitchen was located in Varuna's position. Was that why it had become flooded twice in one year, causing our parquet to rise up like mini-pyramids. My husband reminded me that it had flooded because our toddler had left the kitchen tap on before we all left for a two-week trip. Nevertheless, the kitchen and bathroom were in wrong positions in our apartment. What was I going to do?

Vayu, the god of wind and air, is situated in the northwest corner. Vayu promotes serenity, peace and calm. Our guest bedroom was located in the northwest corner of our apartment. Maybe that is why our guests loved coming to our home and stayed on endlessly. They were getting our home's peaceful aura while we were left bickering in another part of the apartment. Accommodating this Vasthu rule was easy. We just moved into our guest bedroom and left the master bedroom for our guests.

The kitchen and the bathroom were more problematic. For a while, I contemplated installing a small stove in the guest bathroom and cooking there. But our guest bathroom is a tiny, dark space that wasn't conducive to the pleasant aromas of cooking. Turning our kitchen into the bathroom was even more problematic. The only thing I could do was to wash my daughter's hair in the kitchen sink. I vowed to do that at least once a week to propitiate the Vasthu gods.

Finally I had an idea. I would move my spice cabinet into the guest bathroom. I quickly bought a tiny spice rack and filled it with all the Indian spices--cumin, coriander, fennel, fenugreek, black mustard seeds and peppercorns. I nailed my spice cabinet with its assortment of spices on the southeast corner of my apartment, just above the showerhead in my guest bathroom. Guests could stand in the shower and savor the aromas of Indian spices as a prelude to my cooking, I figured.

A week after I finished my Vasthu rearrangement, small miracles happened. No, I didn't win the lottery nor did my husband get a promotion. But our daughter finally got admitted into a preschool after months of nail-biting anxiety. Our kitchen floor never flooded again, and everyone who visits comments on how good my cooking is. I don't tell them that it is because of the spice cabinet above the showerhead. But I do feel more at ease within the confines of our apartment.

Vasthu is all about harmony and balance, both in a home and in life. By making these adjustments to our living space, I discovered that even minor changes could indeed bring harmony and balance to our lives.

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