Metal Bells & Lamps of Tamil Nadu

A wide variety of lamps are used during rituals in homes and temples of Tamil Nadu. The deepam or lamp is the most noteworthy of the metalware made and the type of lamps include aarthi/votive lamps, deepalakshmi, hand lamps and chain lamps. Standing lamps, called kuthu-vilakku, on pedestals with as many as four to five tiers comprise of a round slim-wicked bowl placed atop a pedestal and is used at all ceremonial occasions. It is generally decorated with the hamsa/ mythical swan.

The hand held Aarthi or votive lamps have elaborately carved handles in the shape of a cobra, fish, peacock or monkey. Deepalakshmi or paavai-vilakku is a temple lamp where a female figure is carved holding a shallow bowl for the wicks. Religious symbols such as goddess Lakshmi with elephants on either side or parrot-shapes on the rim are found on other such hand held lamps while Christians and Muslims have the shapes of the cross and crescent moon respectively on the lamps. Elaborately decorated bowls suspended with brass or silver finished chains are a common feature in every household and are generally placed at entrances and to light up corners.