From religious rituals to cultural festivities, lighting lamps has been an integral part of human history and continues to be a cherished custom even in modern times. But are they really that important or are they just a custom that looks beautiful?
Hindu Sloka for Lighting Diya (Deep Prajolan)
ॐ शुभं करोति कल्याणं आरोग्यं धनसंपदः ।
शत्रुबुद्धिविनाशाय दीपज्योतिनमोऽस्तु ते ॥
दीपज्योतिः परब्रह्म दीपज्योति जनार्दनः ।
दीपो हरतु मे पापं संध्यादीप नमोऽस्तुते ॥
Om Subham Karoti Kalyanam Arogyam Dhana Sampadah
Shatru Buddhi Vinashaya Deepa Jyoti Namostute
Deepajyothi Parabrahma Deepajyothi Janardhana
Deepo Me Hara Tu Paapam Sandhya Deepa Namastute
Deep Prajolan Sloka
Meaning: I fold my hands before the light that brings prosperity, auspiciousness, good health, the abundance of wealth, and the destruction of the enemy’s intellect. I fold my hands before the lord, the maintainer of this creation, in the form of this light. I adore this light, which destroys all the pains resulting from my omissions and commissions.
Significances of Lighting a Lamp
Lighting Lamps refers to the practice of lighting oil lamps or Diyas (small clay lamps filled with oil) as a form of worship and offering to the deities in a temple or at home during festivals and other religious ceremonies. The light from the lamps is believed to dispel darkness, ignorance, and negativity, and to welcome the divine presence into the space.
Cultural Significance of Lighting a Lamp
India and Nepal: Lighting Diyas (oil lamps) is a customary practice during festivals such as Diwali, Dussehra, and Holi. Diyas are made of clay and filled with oil or ghee (clarified butter) and are lit to signify the triumph of good over evil, knowledge over ignorance, and light over darkness. The practice of lighting Diyas is also associated with welcoming guests and deities into one’s home.
China: Lighting lanterns is a traditional custom during the Mid-Autumn Festival. The lanterns are made of colorful paper or silk and are hung outside homes or displayed in public places. The lanterns symbolize the full moon and are lit to signify the reunion of families during the harvest season.
African cultures: Lighting candles or torches is a significant part of various rituals and ceremonies.
Yoruba culture: Lighting candles is a way to honor ancestors and seek their blessings. In Zulu culture, lighting torches is a customary practice during traditional dances and ceremonies.
Spiritual Significance of Lighting a Lamp
Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, and Sikhism: Lighting lamps is considered a sacred practice that invokes divine energy and light.
Hinduism: Lighting lamps are associated with Lord Agni (the god of fire) who is believed to be the witness of all rituals and ceremonies.
Buddhism: Lighting lamps are associated with Buddha’s teachings on wisdom and compassion.
Jainism: Lighting lamps are associated with Lord Mahavira (the founder of Jainism) who is believed to have attained enlightenment through self-realization.
Christianity: Lighting candles is a significant part of various religious ceremonies such as weddings, funerals, and Christmas masses. Candles are lit to signify the presence of divine light and to symbolize hope, faith, and love.
Judaism: Lighting candles is a customary practice during Hanukkah (the festival of lights). The candles are lit to commemorate the miracle that occurred during the Maccabean Revolt when a single day’s worth of oil in the temple menorah lasted for eight days.
Symbolic Meanings of Lighting a Lamp
Lighting lamps also hold symbolic meanings that transcend cultural and spiritual boundaries. In many cultures around the world, lighting lamps are associated with knowledge, wisdom, and enlightenment. The light from the lamp represents the inner light that resides within every individual and helps them navigate through life’s challenges and uncertainties. The light from the lamp also represents hope, faith, love, and compassion that spreads far beyond its physical boundaries.
In many cultures around the world, lighting lamps is also associated with hospitality and generosity. Lighting Diyas or lanterns during festivals or ceremonies signifies an invitation to guests or deities into one’s home or community. The light from the lamp also represents warmth, kindness, and generosity that spreads far beyond its physical boundaries.
The cultural, spiritual, and symbolic meanings associated with lighting lamps transcend boundaries of time, place, religion, and culture. Lighting lamps represent knowledge, wisdom, enlightenment, hospitality, generosity, hope, faith, love, and compassion – all qualities that make us human – qualities that spread far beyond their physical boundaries. As we continue to navigate through life’s challenges and uncertainties in these uncertain times – let us remember the power of light – let us remember that we too can be lights in someone else’s darkness.