In every Hindu household it is customary to light the deepam ( lamp) twice, both in the morning and evening. This is usually done in the prayer room before the deity. Our daily worship starts with the lighting of the lamp. All auspicious functions, religious as well as social, start with the lighting of the lamp. This custom has deep intellectual and spiritual significance.

Primarily deepam signifies knowledge. All our activities should be governed by the light of knowledge, especially the knowledge of dharma. By this knowledge, ignorance or darkness is dispelled. We bow to knowledge which is the greatest wealth in our lives. Knowledge also backs our good as well as bad actions. So, the lamp which is kept lit for all auspicious occasions, is a witness to our thoughts and actions.

Chinmayananda says

“Where there is light, darkness cannot be;
Where knowledge has come, ignorance must quit.”

The following shlokas, chanted while lighting a deepam, say it all.

1 – Deepajyotih param brahma deepajyotih janaardhanah
Deepo harathu me paapam sandhyaa deepo namo(a)stutae

The light of the lamp stands for the Unmanifest Truth as well as for Lord Vishnu in His manifest form. Let that light of lamp remove my sins, results of omissions and commissions.

2 – Shubham karoti kalyaanam aarogyam dhanasampadaha
Shatru buddhi vinaas(h)aaya deepajyotih namo(a)stutae

I salute the Supreme who is the light in the lamp that brings auspiciousness, prosperity,
good health, abundance of wealth and the destruction of Intellect’s enemy.

3 – Suvarna vriddhim kurumae gruhae shri
Sudhaanya vriddhim kurumae gruhae shri
Kalyaana vriddhim kurumae gruhae shri
Vibhoothi vriddhim kurumae gruhae shri

I pray to Goddess Lakshmi to shower my house with abundance, grains, auspiciousness and prosperity.