So what do you need to get a puja done for your housewarming apart from turmeric, kumkum, incense sticks, camphor, flowers, betel leaves, coconuts ...?
Think again, it's 2012.
In this coastal city, the priests have gone contemporary. When Jagannath Rao, who built the house of his dreams recently, wanted to do Grihapravesham, the wish list the priests presented to Rao contained unusual items.
Two 500 ml shampoo bottles (of a certain brand) 12 bars of chocolates, two 300 gram containers of prickly heat powder, two packages of body talc, shampoo, Sandalwood soaps, toothpastes and brushes, car deodorisers, gas lighter, popular brands of soft drinks, mosquito repellants and sprays and milk powder. Of course, all this is addition to the puja items you thought were puja items, like camphor, oil for lamps, flowers, rice and coconuts.
Rao was puzzled at the list, and asked the priests about it. The priests told them that the list was made of things that are everyday use in a home. Rao bought the lot, impressed with the thoughtfulness that had gone into making the list.
The puja done, the purohits packed the stuff and left, not before Rao asked them why they were leaving with the non-puja stuff.
"I was told that many of the toiletries comprising acid and chemicals carry bad energy, and had to be included in the list in order to neutralise them through puja. And in order to ward off the bad energy, one has to give them away in ‘daana’ (charity),” said Rao.
He recalled: “When my father built a house some 10 years back I was asked to bring some things from the local shop which cost no more than few hundred rupees, but this time the bill was a few thousand rupees.”
A well known purohit, Raghavendra Bhat laughed off the development.
“These practices have become common now, purohits are becoming modern-day consumers. Many of them lack the means to indulge in them, so they come up with such obnoxious lists.”
Bhat, a teacher of purohitya at the Phalimar mutt near Udupi, which has produced several hundred Purohits who serve in various parts of the world, said: “Purohits were considered as a beacon of light that help a common man lead a normal life by giving him a good marriage rites, a congenial house for him and his family bereft of evils, and even in death a proper last rites, we have to make a living with whatever little the profession of purohitya offers. We cannot fleece common people.”
Senior purohit and Sanskrit scholar Vadiraja Acharya said, “Although I do not approve of such practices, I feel sorry for many purohits who live in poverty and cannot even afford decent education for their children. Patrons should be more generous to them. Many people build houses worth lakhs of rupees and spend generously in feeding their guests, but are miserly when it comes to paying the purohits.”