UNITED STATES, October 15, 2021 (RNS): When Hindus move abroad, there are a couple of sentimental things you can often count on finding in their suitcases — packets of homemade theplas or khakras, a traditional Indian outfit and a statue or photograph of their Deity. The food may not last long and the outfit will go in the back of the closet, but the statue or photograph will often take a prominent place as part of a home temple. Having a worship space in the home is one way young Indian expats can hold on to their traditions and cultural identity, especially when it’s not possible to visit a temple regularly. Even for those who are not very religious, it can be a space for meditation and reflection.

A home temple, also known as puja mandir, has been an integral part of the Hindu culture for centuries. It symbolizes the welcoming of God into one’s home and the importance of daily puja or worship. It’s also a form of gratitude for providing shelter, life and blessings. Some believe having a temple can create positive energy in their home and offer protection from evil. Home temples usually house the photos of the Deities the family worships. These temples vary in size and shape — from a simple recessed nook to an elaborate stone or wooden construction. Of course, cramped dorm rooms and tiny urban apartment spaces — the norm for students and young professionals — can make following these requirements a bit tricky.

See how a few have tried their best to carve out a holy space — be it in a nook, a corner or a closet at “source”.