Generally the lamps used in temples are circular in shape with places for five cotton wicks. These lamps are made of metal, and are either suspended on a chain or screwed onto a pedestal. There will usually be at least one lamp in each small shrine of a temple, and the main Sanctum Sanctorum mostly contains several.
Usually only one wick is lit, with all five burning only on festive occasions. The oil lamp is used in the Hindu ritual of Aarti to conclude the religious ritual.
In the home shrine, the style of lamp is usually different, containing only one wick. There is usually a piece of metal that forms the back of the lamp, which has a picture of a Hindu deity embossed on it. In many houses, the lamp burns all day long, but mostly it is lit at sundown. The lamp in the home shrine is supposed to be lit before any other lights in the house are turned on at night.
A hand-held oil lamp or incense sticks (lit from the lamp) are also used during the Hindu Puja ceremony. In the North of India, a five-wick lamp is used, usually fueled with Ghee. On special occasions like festivals etc, various other lamps may be used for Puja, the most elaborate ones having several tiers of wicks.
Deepalakshmi is a brass lamp with the depiction of Hindu goddess Lakshmi over the back piece. They are usually small and have only one wick.
Nilavilakku, is a tall brass or bronze lamp on a stand where the wicks are placed at a certain height.Paavai vilakku is a brass or bronze lamp in the form of a lady holding a vessel with her hands. This type of lamp comes in different sizes, from very small to almost life-size. There are also large stone versions of this lamp in Hindu temples and shrines of Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala, especially at the entrance of temples. They have only one wick
Thooku vilakku is a brass or bronze lamp hanging from a chain, often with multiple wicks.
For more details on Oil Lamps, have a look at this Wikipedia Page
More information on the oil lamps of India, with web-links to the sources of the images of these beautiful lamps, posted above, of the culturally rich state of Tamilnadu, will follow soon. Stay tuned, & please don’t miss the fun & joy of exploring some of these awe-inspiring, mesmerizing & thought-provoking arts, crafts & sculptures of the timeless, ageless sacred land of the glorious Bharatavarsha (India).
( Disclaimer : All images featured in this Blog-post, are the property of their respective owners. Our deepest sense of gratitude to all of them for making this gigantic project a reality. If you see your picture anywhere in this Blog and don’t want it here, send us a message with the details and the link to the picture, and we will remove it right away. But at the outset, I just want to let my dearest readers know, that the noble purpose of this Blog, is to promote ‘The Glorious Cultural Heritage of India’ worldwide, to every nook & corner of the planet, and I would immensely love to see every single one of us, of Indian origin, passionately participating in this Mega-Project. I am right now in the process of adding the web-links to the sources of the innumerable images in this Blog. Till the work reaches completion, I would request the readers to use ‘Google Image Search’ to trace the source / multiple sources of these images on the web. The rich text contents througout this blog are based on well-researched aggregated and curated content from innumerable sources. But mostly and most importantly, these contents are based on my own personal experience of untiringly exploring the glorious cultural heritage India, and the ageless timeless ethnic arts, crafts, textiles, temples etc of the whole of India, during my stay across the length and breadth of this vast expansive Indian subcontinent for more than 5 decades of my long adventurous life. I have expressed my deepest gratitude to all the text sources on the ‘World-Wide-Web’, that have hugely contributed and added to my existing database of knowledge on this subject, by inserting appropriate hyperlinks throughout this blog, to connect my ardent readers from across the globe, to these rich sources of information on India’s heritage. So Long, Mala Chandrashekhar )