Hinduism is not so much a religion as a way of life. It prescribes a number of acharas or customs which are believed to enhance our lives. These acharas are easy to follow and pave the path to a disciplined, healthy lifestyle. And more than all else, they create a family bond. When children grow up in an environment which is regulated by acharas, they feel a sense of belonging and inherit a tradition which gives them a sense of security and well-being which holds them in good stead through their lives.
Each fortnight, watch this space for simple answers to the ‘why’s’ of some of these customs.
We also bring you little nuggets of information which we hope you will find interesting.
Why do we light a lamp?
Light represents knowledge universally. It dispels darkness which symbolises ignorance. And the source of all knowledge is the Almighty. Hence, the lamp itself is worshipped.
In almost every Hindu home, a lamp is lit daily at the altar. All auspicious events begin with the lighting of a lamp, which is kept alight through the function.
The wick is considered our ego and the oil or ghee our negative tendencies. As the lamp burns, the oil and the wick diminish. The flame burns upwards at all times, reminding us to aspire to higher ideals.
Traditional amps are made of metal (brass, bronze, silver) or clay. Their designs have been handed down through the ages and continue to be in everyday use.
Lighting of lamps or candles is considered an auspicious or spiritual practice in many parts of the world. In most faiths, candles are lit in prayer and in celebration.
Candlestick designs have been given great importance and have over the years become the centre of attention in decor and displays. In India too stores stock decorative candles and stands for all occasions.
The Jewish menorah is a very distinctive branched candelabra. Most menorahs have seven branches, but some have nine.
In 165 BC the Temple of Jerusalem was taken over by Antiochus IV King of Syria. Some Jews, led by Judas Maccabee, decided to stay and fight. They looked for oil to light the menorah to rededicate it and found a flask which looked as though it would only last for one night. Instead it lasted for eight nights, which was considered a miracle. The ninth candle – the central one – is used for lighting the other eight. This is how the Festival of Lights, otherwise known as Chanukah (or Hanukkah) began.
Did you know?
A total of 165,000 tonnes of gold have been mined in human history, as of 2009. This is roughly equal in terms of volume, to about 8,500 m³, or a cube 20.4 m on a side. The world consumption of new gold produced is about 50% in jewellery, 40% in investments, and 10% in industry.