Deeparadhana or lighting lamps or diyas is an important aspect of any puja or Hindu ritual. The importance of deeparadhana is mentioned in many ancient scriptures and the tradition has been in existence since the Stone Age. Apart from religious angle, lighting diyas also has the natural side of benefits for our health and for better environment.
A diya consists of a small earthen pot (it may also of gold, bronze, copper, etc..), oil, and the cotton wick. When we light the twisted cotton wick which is placed in oil, it burns and gives us the light. The flame is considered as the source of heat, light and the energy. It also helps us as a good germicide.
Deepa or diya is also lit during offering Aarti to God or Goddess at the end of any puja. It symbolizes the divine aura and also helps devotees to have a clear glimpse at the idol of the deity. After performing Aarti, we put our palms on the aarti flame to receive the divine energy of the God into us. It reflects the siddhanta of Aatma and Paramatma.
Lighting diya also symbolizes the dispersal of ignorance and awakening of the divine light within us.
In olden days, rishis worshipped the fire and Jyoti (diya / flame) as it considered as the purest form of energy. It gets all the impurities but provides us with the greatest form of energy, light. Many Upanishads, Samhitas, Brahmanas and Puranas have the significance of Deeparadhana.
As per the Skanda Purana, “among the light of fire, the light of the Sun, the light of the Moon, the lamp is the best of lights” (Translation).
Diyas or lamps also have some religious meanings. Diya symbolized the energy of Goddess Lakshmi and lighting diyas keeps us away from darkness of ‘Agnana’ and welcomes us into the world of ‘Gnana’ (light). We can see three colors internally in any diya – White, red and blue. There three colors indicate the forces of Goddess Saraswati (Gnana or wisdom), Goddess Lakshmi (poshana or nutrition) and Goddess Parvati (dhairya or strength).
As per Hinduism and Puja rituals, the number of cotton wicks to use, the oil to use, and the pot to use will be based on the puja or vrata which we will be observing. Generally, the earthen pots and ghee are the finest items to use in lighting diyas.