No matter which religion you look at, there is one thing common in all of them. In all the religions of the world, ‘light’ universally symbolizes both the Almighty and knowledge. Yes, you heard that right! In the following excerpt, you would understand the very reason behind lighting a lamp during rituals. The significance of lighting a lamp in Hindu tradition and its benefits in our lives are also written simply and easily.
Significance Of Light
Light is the very source of all possible life in the universe. And therefore, one worships the light as the Supreme Lord himself, the enlivener and illuminator of all knowledge. Likewise, just as light removes darkness, knowledge also plays a huge role. It dispels one’s inner ignorance. And true knowledge is an unending, ever-growing wealth due to which one can acquire all outer objects. These are the reasons behind lighting a lamp to bow down in life. And it is also a way to give respect and acknowledge light and knowledge as the greatest of all forms of being that exist on this planet.
Lighting a lamp – When?
In traditional Indian homes, people fill the lamp with pure ghee for it to stay lit daily before the altar of the Lord. In some houses, it is lit at dawn; whereas in some it is lit twice a day, at dawn and dusk. Also, in certain homes, it is kept lit the entire twenty-four hours of the day. It differs from each person or family or household. The lamp which is lit for the entire twenty-four hours goes with the name Akhand Jyoti or deepam. All auspicious functions commence with the lighting of a lamp. One considers this mere act of lighting a lamp as a propitious beginning for any ceremony. Isn’t that amazing?
Ghee Lamps are the most auspicious
When one fills the lamp with pure ghee from cow milk, it becomes lit and attracts divine or positive vibrations. It changes the aura of the atmosphere and divinizes the entire place. When this very ghee evaporates, it has the potency to attract positive vibrations which is it’s most unique and indeed super special property.
It is for this very reason that only ghee lamps should remain lit for gods or only on auspicious occasions. But, nowadays, we are unmindful of this tradition and use oil instead. One can use Oil lamps for the arati of a person only. Remember that it is not an ideal choice for that of a deity.
This is because the oil has the property to ward off negativity but does not attract divine vibrations. When a war hero returns, or when a bridegroom goes for marriage, the lady of the house performs his arati with an oil lamp to ward off the evil eye.
The Spiritual Belief System Behind Lighting a Lamp
Believe it or not, but a lit lamp also has a spiritual message. The ghee in it denotes that human vasanas or desires and negative tendencies. On the other hand, the wick in it symbolizes man’s ego. When it is outwardly lit (when a man mentally concentrates on the Supreme Lord), it is an inward action. But when he lights a lamp outside, it becomes an outward action. This act removes the negativity and in fact, attracts divinity.
When it is lit within, it destroys the vasanas from their very root through knowledge. Slowly and gradually, their ego also decimates. The flame of a lamp always burns upwards and onwards. This is what inspires us to acquire such knowledge that will thereby take us towards higher goals, ideals and noble deeds.
Traditional Homes Vs Modern Homes
In traditional homes, a candle or bulb is not lit before the altar. The belief behind this is that it does not have the potency to create the desired effect. On the contrary, in modern homes, it is an unpleasant truth. We resort to short cuts as it is convenient but, in reality, these shortcuts will not yield any tangible results.
Except for the psychological satisfaction of being religious, you will not gain anything out of it. Yes, that sounds bitter but it is the harsh reality. We should always try to cut down on such shortcuts and convenience and do what’s the demand for the ritual.
Research Behind Lighting a Lamp
There was recent research (Source: 238th National Meeting of the American Chemical Society held in September 2007) that took place in the US. It states that the candles made from paraffin wax are extremely harmful to humans.
This is because the candles that release chemicals discharge substances. Substances such as toluene and benzene, cause cancer and it can affect the nervous system. However, beeswax candles, apparently, do not release harmful air pollutants and are comparatively safer.
Interestingly, thousands of years ago, Indian seers and saints did an extensive study. They also did in-depth research about the effects of air pollutants that are discharging from lamps filled with different types of oils and ghee. They found that ghee from cow milk, mustard oil and coconut oil were agreeable to humans, in that order. Other oils were found to be uncompromisingly unsuitable and unfavourable.