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Lamps that Speak Tradition and Beauty

Updated on January 27, 2016
traditional lamp
traditional lamp

In India, we have a beautiful tradition of lighting lamps. We don’t need an occasion or a function to light the traditional lamps; it’s done every day in most Indian households. Lighting lamps is not a religious or superstitious tradition, but a very scientific practice that has been followed for ages in our nation.

When there was no electricity, people used lamps as a source of light after the sun set. So, the tradition of lighting lamps in the evening started. Oil is poured into an earthen container, a cotton wick placed in it, and the wick lit. The glow of the lamp is not only aesthetic, but also creates a peaceful ambience. So, it is no wonder that our forefathers (and mothers) were insistent on lighting lamps in the house.

Even through there are all types of lights, from incandescent to LED, nothing beats the beauty of a traditional lamp. It’s elegance, craftsmanship and beauty is par any description. There are different types of traditional lamps in India, some found in households, and some only in temples. These lamps are usually made of brass.

The “Kamakshi vilaku” (lamp) is one of the most common types of lamps found in most households. It is a small lamp that has a bowl to hold oil and a ridge to place the wick. The lamp has a peepal leaf shaped back that is intricately carved with images of Goddess Lakshmi. The “Kuthu vilaku” is another type of lamp. This lamp has a base, a shaft and a top bowl where the oil is filled. The top part of the lamp where the oil is poured has 3 or 5 ridges to place the wick. On top, it will have a small extension that will allow you to hold the lamp. Sometimes this extension is extensively carved, and in other lamps, it will be a simple conical piece of metal.

Traditional lamp in temple
Traditional lamp in temple

It is in temples that you will find ornate and elaborately designed lamps, with plenty of bowls for oil. They are arranged in a spiral, staggered or eclectic patterns depending on the lamp design. These beautiful traditional lamps showcase the rich cultural history of the temple and its precincts.


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