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Normally, we would call it temple, mosque or church if it were outside. I am looking for a term for "a place at home where we keep the idols of gods and worship them". What would that be called? Is there any specific word for that? In Hindi we call it something which loosely translates to "prayer room" (Puja Ghar)

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    It's a shrine . – Araucaria Oct 22 '15 at 9:20
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    Just for reference, the word "deities" refers to the gods themselves, not their idols. So a "place where deities are kept" would be something like heaven or Mt. Olympus. – Kevin Oct 22 '15 at 14:18
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    @Kevin Thanks, I did not review the question twice before posting. It's just that in our culture, we colloquially call the idols something which loosely translates to "God", hence the mistake. But again, thanks for pointing that out. – Jony Agarwal Oct 22 '15 at 14:25
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    There's not much to rephrase. Just differences in beliefs. – Preston Oct 22 '15 at 17:39
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    There's no need to rephrase anything because of a difference in belief. – RoseofWords Oct 22 '15 at 21:39

10 Answers 10

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I would say "shrine" would be a good word. Even better would be the phrase "personal shrine".

any structure or place consecrated or devoted to some saint, holy person, or deity, as an altar, chapel, church, or temple.

Dictionary.com

  • Personal shrine sounds better than shrine, indeed. Upvote. – user140086 Oct 22 '15 at 9:34
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    Or, if shared by multiple worshipers in the same home, "household shrine". – Patricia Shanahan Oct 22 '15 at 16:51
  • For context, if you go into someone's house, and over in the corner or above the door in the kitchen there's a gold cloth with little statues on it, it's just 'a shrine', not personal or household or anything. If you're referring to it outside of home, it's 'our shrine at home'. – Mitch Sep 20 '16 at 12:33
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A "personal shrine" carries the implication it is used by just one person. "Household shrine" may be a better fit.

You could use the Latin word lararium (pl. lararia), which will be familiar to some readers. But now that there are probably a lot more speakers of Hindi than Latin in western English-speaking countries, why not just use the Hindi word?

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    Good point, "household shrine" is more inclusive in terms of who would use it, and I would guess the OP meant many people would use it since they used the word "we". – trident Oct 22 '15 at 10:22
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    Lararium is not a common term. I would avoid using it. +1 for Household shrine. – Andrew Coonce Oct 22 '15 at 18:19
  • Speaking as someone who knows Latin, immediately thought of a lararium as a good analog for a Hindu household shrine, and is very familiar with the word, I agree with @AndrewCoonce. Not common English usage. – outis nihil Sep 20 '16 at 12:28
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The term you are looking for is very specific to Hindu culture, in a western catholic context that would be referred to as a home altar:

  • An altar is a raised area in a house of worship where people can honor God with offerings. It is prominent in the Bible as "God's table," a sacred place for sacrifices and gifts offered up to God.

enter image description here Example of Puja Ghar

enter image description here Example of home altar

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    Yes, indeed. My upvote. – user140086 Oct 22 '15 at 10:11
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    Just a small correction. Hindi refers to the national language of India. The word you're looking for is Hindu, which refers to an adherent of the faith system known as Hinduism. By the way, while I won't quibble with describing the room as an altar, it should be noted that amongst Hindus, the most commonly used name is prayer room or puja (also spelt pooja) room. You are more likely to see these labels (rather than altar) used to describe the room in English literature of Indian origin, likely to retain verisimilitude. (cont'd) – Deepak Oct 22 '15 at 15:43
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    (cont'd) Also, I've more often heard Chinese Taoists referring to the room they reserve for ancestral worship as an altar, so there are some noteworthy nuances of usage here. – Deepak Oct 22 '15 at 15:44
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    Today it might be Hindu-specific, but if you look back in time, you find things such as the Roman domestic Lares – Mark Oct 22 '15 at 18:51
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    @muru You are right, thanks for the correction. I was under the impression that Hindi was the national language, but after checking, that looks like a de facto rather than a de jure status. India does not have a national language. Hindi is one of the two official languages, along with English (according to Wikipedia). I guess that still makes Hindi more significant than all the other indigenous languages, but still not the national language. Just by way of clarification, I am not an Indian by nationality, as I was born and bred in Singapore. Hence the misstep. – Deepak Oct 23 '15 at 9:11
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In a large (like mansion-sized) house, there are chapels, but "gods" are not kept there, unless you consider statues of Jesus on the cross as a god.

A smaller alcove, not a room, with its contents would be a shrine. The actual entablature would be an altar.

In modern Western culture there is no specific word for a designated room for gods, but the ancient Romans had a place where they kept the household gods, the lares, which was called the lararium. The lararium was a closet or shelf where the lares were placed.

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If it's small, it could be a 'prayer nook':

If you have some extra space in your home, here’s another, more spiritual way to make use of it. Convert it into a prayer nook, a space where you can talk with God without being disturbed or distracted by the outside world.

... A prayer nook doesn’t have to be in a big space. But it should be a dedicated space – one with no other function than to bring you closer to the Creator. If you’re living in tight quarters, consider these possibilities: a walk-in closet (or half of one), an under-the-staircase space or a recessed area formed by a dormer. Basements and attics may also yield some unused areas.

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Buddhist Thais have a similar room in their house devoted to the worship of Buddha images. I have heard the English terms, "image/idol room", "prayer room" and "meditation room" in this context.

The term "family alter" also comes to mind, although from the context of 19th century Protestant family worships.

1

Icon corner or a Red corner is a place where you keep religious symbols in eastern cultures.

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In Ancient Rome they had a lararium. (Note that those deities actually resided there, contrary to Kevin's comment.)

If modern words don't suffice, a loanword from Latin is often acceptable in English.

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Perhaps a reliquary

Wikipedia:

A reliquary (also referred to as a shrine or by the French term châsse) is a container for relics. These may be the purported or actual physical remains of saints, such as bones, pieces of clothing, or some object associated with saints or other religious figures...
...Relics have long been important to Buddhists, Christians, Hindus and many other religions. In these cultures, reliquaries are often presented in shrines, churches, or temples to which the faithful make pilgrimages in order to gain blessings.

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    The concept of the reliquary is orthagonal to that of a worship or contemplation space, however. One need not have any relics at all to have a worship or contemplation space set aside in the home, and at the same time, a reliquary can be something I put on a chain around my neck or keep in my breast pocket. – choster Oct 22 '15 at 17:34
  • I don't disagree, but the question specified a place where idols of worship are kept. – user1103 Oct 22 '15 at 18:39
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The actual word where the idols of Gods are placed inside a temple (at home or in the temple itselves)is called "Sanctum Sanctorum", or as we call it in Hindi as "Aasna of the Gods". This word is drawn from the Jewish language and absorbed in English.

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    "Sanctum Sanctorum" is Latin, and means "holy of holies" (effectively, "most holy place." It can also refer to the core part of a church or temple. – outis nihil Sep 20 '16 at 12:33

protected by Mitch Sep 20 '16 at 13:08

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