WHY DO WE LIGHT LAMPS AT HOME? (Post No.4657)

Written by London Swaminathan 

 

Date: 24 JANUARY 2018

 

Time uploaded in London – 17-53

 

Post No. 4657

Pictures shown here are taken from various sources such as Facebook friends, Books, Google and newspapers; thanks.

 

 

 

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There are two stories in Tamil Nadu about lighting a lamp in the house when the sun sets. Even today most of the Tamils follow it despite electric lights in every room of a house. We do follow it in London despite the fire hazards.

 

In the days before electricity came to Indian towns and villages it was a must. But even today people follow the ancient custom of lighting the traditional lamp in the prayer room or a corner of a house.

 

To illustrate the importance of it there are some folk tales. Mr Natesa Sastri was a scholar who collected them from old people and published them in 1886 in Tamil and English. But I give below my own translation.

 

There was a farmer in a village who had two daughters. One of them got married locally and another was married to a Sozian ( a man form Chola country) in a nearby town. The eldest one who was married locally lost her husband and father in course of time. She had no issue. She made her living by working in the paddy fields. She had an unusual habit of consuming a large quantity of food i.e two measures of rice every day. Actually, ten people can eat in two measures of rice. (A Tamil measure is bigger than one litre). She was very shy and so she did not tell anyone about it and never sought a reason for it.

One day the eldest one felt sick. Sozian’s wife visited her elder sister. It was getting darker and the sun had set. The eldest one started cooking by adding an extra half a measure  because of her younger sister’s visit.

 

Two things surprised her younger sister. Firstly, two and half measures of rice for two people! Secondly, cooking in a pitch dark place. She slowly spoke to her elder sister. She asked why she was cooking in a pitch-dark place and why she cook for ten to twelve people. Her elder sister answered her saying that she had no money to buy oil and more over she was eating two measures of rice every day and she did not know why.

Then her younger sister insisted she must go and get some oil for the lamp, otherwise she could not stay there for night. At last she went out and got some oil for half a measure of rice and lighted the lamp and finished the cooking. When both of them felt contented after eating they saw three fourth of their rice was still in the cooking pot. While both of them were wondering how was it that after eating little they felt full in stomach.

At that time they heard a loud noise. One voice asked the other voice, ‘Oh Sokka, do we get food or not tonight?’ The other voice replied ‘Oh, No, Sozian came and spoiled it’. Both the sisters were puzzled by that noise because no one else was in that house. When they gathered enough courage, they asked who they were. One voice replied that he was a ghost and came to this house every day to take the food because it was dark. Today the Sozian made her to light the lamp and so they were running away from the place. Now the younger one reasoned out that was why her elder sister consumed two measures of rice every day. When the ghosts went out of the house the eldest daughter returned to her normal eating schedule.

Picture by Karthik Raghavan sent from Kaladi in Kerala

 

A crocodile story

There was a Brahmin youth in a village. He got married to a woman in a village nearby. After the traditional four day marriage, the first night was arranged. The newly married Brahmin youth went to the nearby tank (pond) for evening prayers and water ablution. The tank had several man eating crocodiles. No one warned the bridegroom. Suddenly a crocodile pulled him into water.

 

The bridegroom had the shock of his life. But in a moment, he managed to say a few words. ‘Oh Crocodile Unlce! leave me alone for this night. I am newly married and my wife is waiting for the first night meeting. Let us have our honey moon tonight and I will definitely come tomorrow morning and then you may eat me. If you swallow me  now, my wife and her aged father would die of sorrow and you would incur the sin of killing three Brahmins.”

 

The crocodile said to him, “Ok, you may go now and return tomorrow. Because you are a Brahmin who never go back on his words, I trust you”.

The young Brahmin returned home and went to bed with his wife. In the middle of night he explained everything that happened on that day. His wife told him, “Oh, My Darling! Don’t wait till tomorrow morning; others may not allow you to go to die; So go to the tank now!”

 

He was shocked to hear such horrible words from his new wife. He thought women must be devils; so, it is better to die in the pond by the crocodiles instead of living with this cruel woman. He came back to the tank and called the crocodile. The crocodile sprang upon him. At that moment, a sudden flash of light appeared in the place and disappeared. The crocodile said to him, Oh No, I can’t eat you. The light has gone out. No living being eats if the lights go out. Sorry, You may go home”.

 

When he turned back he saw his wife coming running with tears of joy in her eyes. She said to him,

“Oh My Darling I prayed to all the Gods in the world that my plan should work. I lighted a lamp in a pan ad covered it. When the crocodile sprang upon you I showed it to him and put it off. You know what happened then”

Then he hugged his wife and said to her, “Darling You are the most beautiful woman in the world. You are the most intelligent woman in the world;  all the people in the world would come to know the significance of lighting a lamp in the house through you”. From that day onwards village folk lighted lamps inside the house and put one lamp in the niche on the outside wall.

 

Both these stories are in wide circulation among villagers in South India.

 

–Subham–

 

 

 

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