The inherent wisdom of our ancestors is truly amazing! In ancient times, when the sun set on the horizon, earthen lamps were lit around the house for illumination. The lamps were filled with mustard oil and had cotton wicks that were rolled by hand. These wicks were then lit. Sounds overtly simple, doesn’t it? However, these simple lamps had a lot of “technology” built into them.
The choice of mustard oil was a brilliant move. The smoke produced by burning mustard oil has therapeutic properties. It has a purifying effect on the surroundings. It also repels mosquitoes and other insects that emerge when the sun goes down. The smoke also emits a pleasant aroma that has a deodorizing effect on the home.
That is probably why earthen lamps with mustard oil are lit during the festival of Diwali. It isn’t only about illumination and auspicious lighting. Diwali marks a distinct change of season – bringing with it the onset of seasonal diseases. By purifying the air and keeping insects away, these lamps played a very important role in preventing diseases that would become rampant with the change of season.
So as we celebrate Diwali with lights and sweets and delicacies, let’s remember with gratitude the enduring wisdom of our ancestors. Their knowledge was truly fascinating.