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Nilavilakku is a popular form of oil lamp that is primarily used in Tamil Nadu and Kerala for spiritual and religious purposes. The word Nilavilakku is made up of two words- Nilam that means ground or land and Vilakku means lamp or diya. This oil lamp is an integral part of various Hindu ceremonies that takes place in Kerala. This special lamp has one or more levels or steps and can be filled with oil and cotton wicks.
History Of Nilavilakku Lamps-
In the Hindu temples of South India, Nilavilakku is commonly used. It can be found in Thookkuvilakku and Kuthuvilakku. The significance of this oil lamp cannot be stressed enough. The lamp is closely related to the rich cultural heritage and customs of Southern Indian states like Kerala and Tamil Nadu. Since ancient times, this Nilavilakku lamp has been very popular. In ancient times, this lamp was usually made up of brass or bronze material but in modern times, this lamp is made using a mix of different metals.
Lighting up Nilavilakku Oil Lamps-
Nilavilakku can be lit up in different ways. One wick is lit in the first way and directed towards the sacred space. In the second way, two wicks are lit and face opposite sides. Thirdly, five wicks are lit facing five directions.
Nilavilakku and its Relation With Christianity
It is significant to note that Nilavilakku is also related with the Christianity religion. In Kerala, lighting this Nilavilakku oil lamp is considered to be very auspicious and as such it is an integral part of South Indian homes, religious places, and temples. It is also seen in Churches. For example, the famous St. Thomas Christians and Syrian Christians also started using this oil lamps in their houses and churches. A majority of churches in Kerala use Nilavilakku in their churches.
In churches, the top of the Nilavilakku lamps are usually found moulded in the shape of a cross or in the form of a dove. Even today, the churches of Kerala have Nilavilakku lamps that are still in use. Syrian Christians follow a traditional art form like Parichamuttukali and Margamkali which are performed close to a lighted Nilavilakku. This lamp is also lighted in weddings and in many cases, the groom and the bride light Nilavilakku as part of their wedding ceremony.
There is no dearth of stories and symbolism surrounding Nilavilakku. Kerala begins with the festivities of Diwali and Vishu by lighting this lamp. This traditional, elegant looking lamp is an epitome of grace and reminiscent of rich cultural heritage of India.
Cleaning of Nilavilakku-
To ensure continued shine of Nilavilakku, it is important to clean it regularly. Using cleaning products like Dhara, Pitambari, etc, the lamp can be cleaned thoroughly bringing it to its original shine. It is available on many reputed online and offline stores. After cleaning it, rub it with a soft cotton cloth so that there are no marks of water on its surface and it continues to shine as resplendently as ever.