Why do we light lamps (diyas) ?

Conventional Reason : In almost every Indian home a lamp is lit daily before the altar of the Lord. In some houses it is lit at dawn, in some, twice a day – at dawn and dusk – and in a few it is maintained continuously (Akhanda Deepa). All auspicious functions commence with the lighting of the lamp, which is often maintained right through the occasion. Light symbolizes knowledge, and darkness, ignorance. The Lord is the “Knowledge Principle” (Chaitanya) who is the source, the enlivener and the illuminator of all knowledge. Hence light is worshiped as the Lord himself. Knowledge removes ignorance just as light removes darkness. Also knowledge is a lasting inner wealth by which all outer achievement can be accomplished. Hence we light the lamp to bow down to knowledge as the greatest of all forms of wealth. Why not light a bulb or tube light? That too would remove darkness. But the traditional oil lamp has a further spiritual significance. The oil or ghee in the lamp symbolizes our vaasanas or negative tendencies and the wick, the ego. When lit by spiritual knowledge, the vaasanas get slowly exhausted and the ego too finally perishes. The flame of a lamp always burns upwards. Similarly we should acquire such knowledge as to take us towards higher ideals.

Whilst lighting the lamp we thus pray:

Deepajyothi parabrahma

Deepa sarva tamopahaha

Deepena saadhyate saram

Sandhyaa deepo namostute

I prostrate to the dawn/dusk lamp; whose light is the Knowledge Principle (the Supreme Lord), which removes the darkness of ignorance and by which all can be achieved in life.


Scientific Reason : In ancient times every house was lit with lamps to drive away darkness, and this habit was picked from the people from Kerela mainly because Kerala being very hilly and full of greenery, snakes used to frequent their houses. A lamp lit with til oil it is believed will keep the snakes away by its smell. This habit was slowly picked by every house hold and said the Goddess of wealth will dwell in these houses where this lamp is lit. As habits die hard , even today we lit the lamps as a tradition.

India is a country with infinite traditions and beliefs. Each one has a scientific reason behind it! Share this page with your friends because Knowledge is like money: to be of value it must circulate,
and in circulating, it can increase in quantity and, hopefully, in value.