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Building a House in Nepal

Auspiciousness as a Practice of Emplacement

John Gray

The subject of auspiciousness and inauspiciousness in South Asian society has largely been analyzed as a temporal condition in which there is a harmonious or inharmonious conjunction of people and events in time. In this article, the construction of houses by high-caste people living in a hamlet in Nepal is used to argue for a reconceptualization of auspiciousness and inauspiciousness as practices of emplacement in space and time. The analysis demonstrates how the rituals associated with the various stages of construction ensure the new house's compatibility with its spatial milieu—the soil, the site, the cardinal directions, and the reigning deities, as well as the vital force of the earth. Together with the auspicious timing of each stage of construction and its associated ritual with the owner's horoscope, the result of the building process shows auspiciousness to be a harmonious conjunction of person, place, and time.

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Constance Mui, Kevin Gray, John Foran and David Ross Fryer

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