bālālaya

(‘the little temple’)

Hindu temples, with their images, are built with materials like stone, so that they can last long. Due to the ravages of time, weather, accidents or any other cause, when the temple structure or the image is damaged, needing repair or replacement, provision has been made in the āgamas for the necessary ritualistic processes to transfer the ‘kalā’ or the power of the deity temporarily through a kalaśa (consecrated pitcher of water) to a new image and installed in a new temple provisionally built for the purpose. Once the renovation work is over, the ‘kalā’ is transferred back to the old renovated temple and image.

The temporary structure put up for this purpose to house the deity during the renovation work, so that the usual rituals can go on undisturbed, is technically called ‘bālālaya’ or ‘the little temple’, since it is ‘small’ compared to the original structure. It is generally built in the front of the old temple, but to its left side, and its door facing that of the old one. It should have both a garbhagṛha (sanctum sanctorum) and a maṇḍapa (hall) attached to it. The image may be made of either metal or wood. The entire process of consecration of the bālālaya is identical with that of any newly built temple. Once the old temple is renovated, the kalā is transferred back to the old image in the renovated shrine or to the new image installed there, if the old one had been damaged necessitating replacement. After this, the image of the bālālaya has to be burnt, if of wood, or melted, if of metal, and presented to the ācārya or preceptor. The old image of the original temple, if replaced, should be taken in a procession and immersed deeply in sea or river or lake.