Vastu has caught up with almost everyone indulged in buying and selling of homes, office spaces. The increased popularity of the vastu shashtra has been credited to the media attention being paid to it.
Gone are the days when Vastu Shastra was used only by Hindus while constructing their homes, says 60-year-old K. Muraleedharan Nair, who is much sought after here for his knowledge of the ancient Indian building principles. The trend has caught on among Kerala's Christians and Muslims as well.
'Today Vastu has no religious barriers. I have a steady stream of people calling on me, seeking professional advice right from when to buy a plot,' said Nair, a retired government employee based here.
Vastu is a system of architectural designs based on directions. It is all about creating congenial settings for a place to live or work in.
It takes advantage of the benefits bestowed by the five elements of nature, called 'panchabhootas', thereby claiming to pave the way for enhanced health, wealth, prosperity and happiness.
Widespread coverage in the media has made more people aware of it, Nair believes.
'This has become popular as TV channels conduct regular shows on Vastu and even newspapers have a weekly column by Vastu experts,' Nair, who also runs short-term Vastu courses recognized by the Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU).
C.J. Varghese, an architect by profession, said even the builders of multi-storey apartments are very particular about Vastu.
'We have a few Vastu experts who give us professional advice because as far as flats are concerned there are certain limitations. But given those limitations, all aspects of Vastu are adhered to,' said Varghese.
Agreed K.I. Mujib, a Muslim and a leading builder in the state capital who specialises in villas. 'I have built over 100 villas and each home is Vastu-compliant. All clients ask for it, irrespective of their religion,' he said.
Kerala has seen a building boom, with remittances by Malayalis from the Gulf making the real estate sector flourish.
P.N. Suresh, executive director of the state-run Vasthuvidya Gurukulam, said the number of enquiries the institution receives for homes to be built under Vastu has gone up manifold.
'If one looks into the number of consultancies we have given to clients by preparing the plan and estimates for residences, it has crossed 6,000. We do get a lot of enquiries from the Middle East and also Europe seeking a plan under Vastu,' told Suresh.
Shibhu K.R., a real estate agent who deals with non-resident Keralites, said Vastu was not so much in demand when he entered the business a decade ago.
'With property prices soaring by over 100 percent in the past decade, now we are very careful about buying land because when prospective clients come to look for a plot, they take expert advice on a home to be built on Vastu principles. We have burnt our fingers a few times!' said Shibhu.
Many have had bad experiences while buying a house, converting them to the ancient Indian building philosophy.
K.C. Babu, a retired government official settled in Kottayam, never believed in the science of Vastu. But when several marriage proposals for his son did not work out, he decided to apply it to his already renovated home.
'For more than a year, not a single proposal for my son could be finalised and I felt jittery. So a friend one day brought a Vastu expert to my home and he immediately identified the problem,' Babu said.
'While renovating my home, I had shifted the front door of the house. The Vastu expert asked me to bring it back to the original position and I did. Believe me, the very next proposal got finalised and my son's marriage was fixed,' told Babu.
Likewise, Roy Cherian, a Christian, is taking no chances. A businessman in Qatar and currently on vacation in Kottayam, he has finally decided not to demolish the more than 90-year-old ancestral home he inherited.
'I have built a new home and was not very keen to maintain the traditional one, which usually remains locked up. A Vastu expert advised me to knock down the extensions made over the years but retain the main structure. He said it would bring more harm than good if I demolished the entire structure,' said Cherian.