Dating back to ancient times, oil lamps have been an essential tool used to light homes apart from practicing their spiritual beliefs. Oil lamps were commonly made of metal, precious metal such as gold or silver, or clay. It depends on the meaning and culture of where it was made. Its structure and design often included ornamental designs or vivid imagery such as symbols, and religious and mythological pictures. Oil lamps use plants’ nuts and seeds, as well as animal fats to provide sources of fuel to successfully produce light.
Nowadays, modern oil lamps use petroleum or gas-based fuels to produce light in case of an emergency. It no longer functions for practicality being the main source of light at home. However, the use of oil lamps for spiritual purposes and practices can still be seen and observed today.
Oil lamps are very important in the practice of Judaism, as they believe that lamps are a symbol of lighting the way for having positive values such as love and righteousness. People who practice Judaism often have oil lamps to invite these values to their homes. Oil lamps are also used during important spiritual rituals.
In Christianity, oil lamps are used in the altar and in front of statues and figures of saints and angels. There are many references of oil lamps in the Holy Bible, which makes the traditional practice of using and lighting oil lamps in church and in special ceremonies such as the Holy Mass, wedding, and baptism are still practiced in most traditional churches today.
Oil lamps are highly used to practice Hinduism. The practice involves different structures and styles of oil lamps depending on where it will be used. Hindu temples use oil lamps to accompany in their worship called aarti where songs are sung in praise of the deity, and during Hindu occasions. At home, oil lamps are also an essential tool for prayer and worship. Sometimes, the lamps burn all day in front of a Hindu deity’s picture. It is a wide-known Hindu belief that at night, the oil lamp should be the first light that is lit before any other lights at the house.
Chinese Folk Religion
Used in shrines where an image of a deity or a deity’s name written in Chinese characters, oil lamps are kept burning in these shrines to help call and invite the certain deity in worship. Usually, it is used as the main source of flame where all incense sticks are lit from during worship ceremonies.
Oil lamps produce a genuine and spiritual ambiance due to how it produces light. Some even use them for magic by creating and lighting an oil lamp then saying a prayer or stating a petition. It has been said that oil lamps can strengthen your appeal to any saint or spirit. However, it is highly unlikely, because there is no proof, that an actual genie appears when you rub an oil lamp in the modern days.