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Vaastu Kitchen
Sherry Roy
While maintaining our tryst with an architectural past through an invigorated vaastu compliancy, we have also moved forward to imbibe other construction styles. Our kitchens, which have gone both modular and vaastu perfect, could be a pictionary of that fact.

Dosa with a Cola

In case your right eyebrow hasn’t shot up at the mention of this supposed mismatch, it is because your palette and mind has adjusted to this ‘East meets West’ confluence. Just like our architecture also has. What might have seemed taboo not so long ago – a marriage of an Eastern architectural guideline with Western ergonomics – is an accepted ritual now. ‘Cross over’ might be a good term to signify this evolving ‘Indian’ architectural style, that has combined both vaastu and modular into their designs.

Vaastu for Beginners
In a country where everyone and his uncle are budding vaastu experts, but still are unable to give a satisfying rationale for facing a particular direction, it is essential to understand some elementary vaastu. This might seem a bit technical at first, but once you grasp the initial idea, you can make sense of any plot (pun intended) as you go along.

Vaastu saastra is an ancient Indian system of designing and constructing temples, homes, auditoriums etc. The term comes from two Sanskrit root words. Vaas (vasn) means living space or dwelling. Saastra means tradition, or religious norm or even ‘science’ in a loose sense, though not in the sense as a scientist would use it.

Science goes by the ‘law of cause and effect’ in general, and the ‘law of uniformity of cause and effect’ in particular. It also needs an established causal connection. Because vaastu does not follow this principle, it is not classified as science. Also, what is scientific is generally universal, unlike vaastu. But even when vaastu need not be understood as ‘science’ per se, it is still an important ingredient of Indian architecture, because of its spiritual roots.

Vaastu is inseparably linked to the Hindu belief about creation, where the formless (God) takes a form (universe) or the Divine Consciousness metamorphoses into Elements (that constitute the universe). The five primordial elements or the panchabhutas - earth, water, fire, air and ether (space) are all Vedic gods – Agni, Vayu, Surya, Yama, Indra and Nairuti.

These gods and their positions in a particular space (or construction) are understood with the help of a ‘map’ called a vaastu mandal. A vaastumandal is a complex drawing of a square (which is considered a perfect shape) containing many grids and diagonal lines within it, to identify the zones of these panchabhutas and their flow within this mapped area. Their flow is not to be disturbed. If disturbed by any structure like a pillar or wall or door or window, steps are to be taken to rectify it.

Directional attributes are critical in this mapping because each of the eight directions is linked to a Hindu god. East denotes the deities of light, while West denotes those of darkness. North indicates the gods of birth, while South indicates those of death. North East is the source of all these energies, which inevitably travel and disappear to the South West.

Directions and the Vedic Gods that Govern Them

  1. East: Indra, the god of rain.
  2. South East: Agni, god of fire
  3. South: Yama, god of death
  4. South West: Nairuti (one of the Rudras), a personification of death
  5. West: Varuna, god of water
  6. North West: Vayu, god of wind
  7. North: Kuber, protector of wealth
  8. North East: Ishan (Shiva), the guardian deity
In the construction of any structure, even a kitchen, the flow of these cosmic powers is noted. The kitchen itself is thus required to be in the South East portion of the house. The main entrance to the kitchen should be in the North, East or in the North East direction.

Vaastu compliant kitchens need to have their fire (the hob or the stove) placed in the South-East and facing East within that space. The water (the sink) meanwhile, has to be in the North East. Heavy objects like the refrigerator need to be kept in the South West of the kitchen.

Modular Kitchens - a discussion with Christopher Hartnett, Kitchen by Design

An offspring from the West, modular kitchens follow the concept of the ‘kitchen work triangle’. The work triangle is an imaginary straight line drawn from the center of the sink, to the center of the cook top, to the center of the refrigerator, and finally back to the sink to make a triangle. It stems from the understanding that storage, preparation and cooking are the three main functions of a kitchen, and the places for these functions might be best situated at three ends of an invisible triangle in order to not interfere with each other. Modular kitchens concentrate heavily on ergonomics and utilize space well, stretching every available inch into an optimal mile.

Even local carpenters boast about being able to give modular kitchens. But with their design ability and execution skills suspect, it mostly turns out to be a gamble. Their trial and error methods have known to compromise quality, measurement and finish – through what is excused in local parlance as unnees bees ka faraq (a small pardonable difference). Reputed modular kitchen providers use factory finished components, which ensure that the accessories are made to fit the kitchen and not the other way around.

Modular kitchens are designed to be knock-down equipment, meaning that you can strip your entire kitchen off in case you are shifting, and paste it at your new place with just a few modifications. These could be installed in a week or less, unlike the traditional carpenter model which also needs one’s constant supervision.

A locally made carpentry kitchen may seem a cheaper proposition, but if you add the relative costs comprising of quality and durability, the cost difference might appear marginal.
By combining aesthetics with functionality, modular kitchens are increasingly in demand now as they are proving to be the answer to every homemaker’s dream for a safe, comfortable and stylish workspace.
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