Oil lamps are commonly used in Hindu temples as well as in home shrines. In India, lamp symbolizes the human body and flame symbolizes the soul. Thus the individual is a Deepak (lamp) and the soul is a jeevan jyoti (the flame of life). Indians believe, that the soul is immortal. Even after the death of a person, a lamp is lit to guide the departing soul into the other world.
At every stage of life therefore, lamps are lit to celebrate the eternal life force. In earlier times special lamps were lit at coronation ceremonies, on the return of a victorious warrior and at every other important occasion. The aarti (ritualistic adoration with lighted lamps) is performed even today to strengthen and establish relationship between man and God, brother and sister, wife and husband, mother and child. Ancient texts mention Deepadaan (gifting of lamp) as a act of high merit. There are several festivals connected with lamps – Deep Amavasya (July – August), Diwali (October – November) and Ganga poojan which are celebrated with great pomp.
With the passage of time there has been innovation in the types and shapes of lamps meant for different occasions and requirement.
Indian Decorative Art
C. 19th Century CE
13.5 x 33.2 cms.