Some interesting facts of oil lamps in Hinduism - 01

Deepam / light

Deepam or light  is associated with many religions, in particular, Hinduism. The other religions that come to our mind are Buddhism, Jainism, Christianity and Judaism. The deepam, with particular reference to oil lamps,  is  personification of knowledge, purification of our mind and  elimination of  darkness and ignorance  from the mind and heart. Light is the symbol of knowledge and energy. With out light, there will be darkness around us. Hence  deepam or light is  synonymous with  knowledge and wisdom, Fire or light is an important element of Pancha Boothas - five essential elements of life according to Hinduism. They are  fire, earth, water, air and sky - without them, survival on the planet for all living things is just impossible. Among the Pancha Boothas,  fire or deepam is the only element that can never be polluted permanently. It shines on its own  and causes the objects around it  to shine due to its ability to reflect. The fire, which is at the middle of the five elements,  gives power and heat, imparting spark in the middle. This the reason why the priests conduct homam in front of Agni (fire). Among the three Sandhyas or Kaalams or junctures,  we don't  need light when the Sun shines during the day. But the  other two  Sandhyas  at early dawn and dusk,  we need the help of lamp.

In Hinduism fire or burning of oil lamp plays an integral part. When the learned Pundits conduct  Homams or Yagna, they prepare Agni kundam - fire pits for fire to propitiate the god.

Alangara lamp stand temples,

Above image: Alangara or Adukku deepam used by priests during Kaala puja  in the south Indian Hindu temples................

Burning or lighting of oil lamps is an important part of Hindu  temple rituals. This practice is widely observed in Churches and in many Indian mosques or Durgahs as well. The popular Hindu festival of Deepawali or Diwali is closely associated with light signifying the victory of the good over the evil. So is the festival of Karthikai Deepam which is quite popular in South India. In the households oil lamps are lit to get rid of evil forces that thrive in the dark.
The following are the amazing facts:

01. It is  important to light  oil lamp before starting our daily prayers and  chanting  shlokas / mantras. There are different deepams - Ghee deepam, Gingerly deepam, etc.

02. Burning of oil-lamps or deepams in Hindu  temples is a daily ritual. Some may use ghee to light the  deepam instead of oil; gingerly / sesame oil is commonly used to get the oil lamp going.

03. It is strongly believed that burning of oil lamps  generates some positive energy and it boosts our morale when we pray intensely.

.Pavai Killakku (woman with a
Above image: Pavai Vilakku is widely used in South India in particular, Tamil Nadu. At Hindu temples one can see  large brass or alloyed metal  Pavai Vilakku lit at some places near the shrineArtistic works and sizes vary depending on the prices and requirements. .....................................

Lakshmi  brass lamp,

04. Ghee lamp is known to have better ability to attract the sattvik vibrations - positive energy  present in the surrounding atmosphere as compared to oil lamp.
05. In the case of ordinary oil lamps sattvik vibrations or  - positive energy  spreads over a short distance around it,   whereas the sattvik vibrations emanating from ghee lamps cover much brander area.

sandhya dewepam, Kuruvady, Kerala

06. Lighting the ghee oil  regularly at home will be beneficial and the beneficiary will enjoy all Aishwaryam (prosperity) and the required health and wealth. It will help those who sincerely work hard towards their goal. Mere lighting oil lamp before the deity will not benefit without hard work. 

07. If we light the lamp with  castor oil, it is said, that we will have happy married life with sustained peace of mind, tranquility and  will be able to maintain good relations with wife and other relatives.

08. The Hindu holy books say certain deities favor certain oil lamps for pooja or prayer purposes. Cow's Ghee: Sri Mahalakshmi; gingerly / sesame Oil:  Sri Subramanya/ Sri  Narayana; coconut Oil : Sri Ganesh;   A mix of ghee, castor oil, coconut oil, vepannai (Oil extracted from the Neem Leaves : Goddess Devi Parashakti;  Sesame Oil : All the gods

09. Light a deepam or lamp  in pure ghee; preferably of cow’s milk; or in mustard oil  and say your prayers  before the deepam every morning before you go out and every evening after you return home. Diya means good luck, energy and purity.

10. Never light up  the lamp with ground nut oil before god and is not advisable.

11. In all shrines including Sri Kovil or Garbagriha, the oil lamps will be continuously burning  right before the deities all through the year  and also at certain places on the temple premises.. So also in almost all Hindu houses. 

12. It is strongly believed that the lamps lit with til oil will keep the poisonous snakes and others away by it smell.

13. In India,  as  part of prayer, the custom of lighting a deepam or diya twice a day — in the morning and evening has been in vogue for centuries  and almost  all Hindu households follow this custom. 

14. Any auspicious function, ceremony, or opening of a new business will begin with the lighting of an oil lamp (Kutthu Vilakku - tall standing lamp). Preferably women will light up the lamp.

15. When a newly-married couple come home for the first time, they will be received warmly with an Aarthi. In  many households when the mother comes home with her new-born baby after delivery women folks will do Aarthi.

16. Lighting of oil lamps has philosophical connotations The oil in the diya symbolizes negativity (greed, lust, hatred, etc) in the human mind. The wick is symbolic of the atma (soul). The act of lighting of diyas signifies getting rid of selfish thoughts and pursuit of material happiness. It will show up the path to self-denial, contentment and finally enlightenment.

Tit Bits:

Thiruvanamalai Karthgai deepam festival, T N.

Among  the  many  festivals held at Arunachaleswarar temple (dedicated to Lord Shiva) in Tiruvannamalai, Tamil Nadu throughout the year,  the annual Karthigai Deepam is the most significant one that is celebrated with  utter devotion and reverence. It normally takes place in the month of November after Diwali. On the Karthgai deepam day  across India, in particular, south India oil lamps will be lit in the Hindu homes and temples after the Maha Karthigai Deepam is lit on the Arunachala hill in the late evening behind the temple at Thiruvanamalai. Here, the Karthigai Deepam is celebrated as a ten day festival on a grand scale and it is attended by more than a million people. The state government makes special arrangements during the festival days  for the comforts of the devotees.