Differences between haveli and mandir


Nij / private Haveli is a house where a set of rooms are set aside for seva.  Out of grace, the owner of the haveli allows fellow vaishnavs to come and take darshan of Thakorji that have been entrusted to him / her for seva.  As this is a private residence and a private seva, there are no financial transaction here.  Owner of the haveli pays for the upkeep of the haveli and seva of their deity (Thakorji).  Rules of access are fairly strict and timings of darshans depend on the owner of the haveli.  This is mainly due to limitation on the number of staff available convenience of the owner of the haveli.  In a private haveli, the main concern is Thakorji’s comfort (tat-sukh) and all routines are centred around Thakorji’s activities.


Public Havelis are where public, not just vaishnavs, may donate money or material for specific seva.  In a public haveli, thakorji’s tat-sukh is balanced with devotes desire for darshan.  As a result, during festivals, the darshan time is often extended for several hours to accommodate the large crowds.  Public havelis are designed with public access in mind.  Large entrance and exit routes are planned with sufficient room in front of the inner sanctum for everyone to have darshan.  Opening times are fairly regulated to make sure everyone has a fairly good idea of when they can expect to have darshan.  During festivals, extra security is organised to handle the crowds.  In a public haveli, people are encouraged to donate money and material for seva.  Detail lists are kept of donations for accounting purposes so that all transactions in the haveli are seen to be transparent and above board.  An entire area is set aside to administer and store public donations to the public haveli.  Extra food is cooked to distribute amongst the staff and visitors too.  Staff at the Haveli are paid to work, role and responsibility are strictly defined.   There are also opportunities for Vaishnavs to help out and perform seva in the haveli, especially during festivals.     

Mandir (temple) is a structure specifically created for public worship.  Ease of access is essential as is safety and security.  Deity is treated as the owner of the mandir and temple servants work around the daily routine their divine owners.   Temple accepts, and encourages, public donations to off set the cost of upkeep of the temple and cost of worship.  Everything from food, clothes and jewellery of the deity are donated by the laity.  Temples do their best to maximise the length of darshan times to allow maximum number of people to have darshan.  Temple staff are paid and their duties are well defined.  There will be limited opportunity for the laity to help out in the regular running of the temple.


Institutions run by Trusts can have anyone sit on its board of trustees.  Trustees can be believers, non-believers, government representatives, rich donors or celebrities who may be able to attract more funds.  Such institutions are run to attract funds and make as much money as possible to support the activities of the Trust.  Such trustee run institutions are popular with donors as they are tax exempt.  In such places, rituals and festivals are celebrated in a grand manner to attract as many visitors to the temple as possible.  As long as they donate generously, visitors do not have to be believers.   

When havelis expect the vaishnavs to donate everything that is needed in the seva of the Thakorji, that haveli is acting like a mandir. 
When the owners of the haveli do not do seva themselves and hire staff to do it for them, that haveli is acting like a mandir.
When the owners of a haveli plan the seva routine around the laity, and not the deity, that haveli is acting like a mandir.
When non vaishnavs control the running and maintenance of the haveli, that haveli is acting like an institutional, trustee run mandir.



 Bhagwat Shah ©

Pushti Margg

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