Monday, January 28, 2008

Is Lighting Candle A Blasphemy in Hinduism (And Desecration of Temple)?

Yes, according to our (newly-appointed) Minister of Hindu Affairs:

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I'm not a theologist, so I let some of the pictures sourced from the internet do the talking...

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And also from Wikipedia:

Religion

The candle is used in the religious ceremonies of many different faiths.

Sikhism

The candle is used in Sikhism on Diwali, the festival of light.

Buddhism

Candles are a traditional part of Buddhist ritual observances. Along with incense and flowers, candles (or some other type of light source, such as butter lamps) are placed before Buddhist shrines or images of the Buddha as a show of respect. They may also be accompanied by offerings of food and drink. The light of the candles is described as representing the light of the Buddha's teachings, echoing the metaphor of light used in various Buddhist scriptures.[1] See Ubon Ratchathani Candle Festival for an example of a Buddhist festival that makes extensive use of candles.

Hinduism

In almost all Hindu homes, lamps are lit daily before the altar of the Lord. In some houses, the lamps, or candles, at dawn, and in some, twice a day - at dawn and dusk - and a few homes, it is maintained continuously.

A diya, or clay lamp, is frequently used in Hindu celebrations and forms an integral part in many social rites. It is a strong symbol of enlightenment and prosperity.

In its traditional and simplest form, the diya is made from baked clay or terracotta and holds oil that is lit via a cotton wick.

Traditional diyas have now evolved into form wherein waxes are being used as replacements for oils. sample of a traditional earthen clay lamp

Christianity

Candles are sometimes burnt in churches and cathedrals as a sign of remembrance. Small donations, such as those from this candle in Helsinki Cathedral often go towards missionary work or other charities.
Candles are sometimes burnt in churches and cathedrals as a sign of remembrance. Small donations, such as those from this candle in Helsinki Cathedral often go towards missionary work or other charities.

In Christianity the candle is commonly used in worship both for decoration and ambiance, and as symbols that represent the light of God or, specifically, the light of Christ. The candle is often placed on the altar. A Votive candle may be lit as an accompaniment to prayer. The candle is lit by worshippers in front of icons in Orthodox and other churches. In some churches, a special candle known as the Paschal candle, specifically represents Christ and is lit only at Easter, funerals, and baptisms.

In some Christian denominations, the day of Candlemas marks the end of the season of Epiphany. On this day, the presiding priest blesses the candle to be used in worship for the following year.

The Candle was traditionally used to light up Christmas trees before the advent of electric lights. They are still commonly used to decorate Christmas trees in Denmark and other European countries. They are also used in Advent wreaths.

In Sweden (and other Scandinavian countries), St. Lucia Day is celebrated on December 13 with the crowning of a young girl with a candle ring.

Judaism

In Judaism, a pair of candles is lit on Friday evening at the start of the weekly Sabbath celebration. On Saturday night, a special candle with several wicks is lit for the Havdalah ritual marking the end of the Sabbath.

The 8-day holiday of Hanukkah, also known as the Festival of Lights, is celebrated by lighting a special candelabrum or Hanukkiyah each night to commemorate the rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem.

A memorial candle is lit on the Yahrtzeit, or anniversary of the death of a loved one according to the Hebrew calendar. The candle burns for 24 hours. A memorial candle is also lit on Yom HaShoah, a day of remembrance for all those who perished in the Holocaust, and on the eve of Yom Kippur.

Kwanzaa

The Candle is also used in celebrations of Kwanzaa, which is an African American holiday which runs from December 26 to January 1. The kinara: has three red, one black, three green.

Humanism

For some Humanists the candle is become a symbol of the light of reason or rationality. The Humanist festival of HumanLight often features a candle-lighting ceremony.

Wicca

In Wicca and related forms of Neopaganism, the candle is frequently used on the altar to represent the presence of the God and Goddess, and in the four corners of a ritual circle to represent the presence of the four classical elements: Fire, Earth, Air, and Water. When used in this manner, lighting and extinguishing the candle marks the opening and closing of the ritual. The candle is also frequently used by Wiccans and other Neopagans for magical and meditative purposes.


Any Hindus out there mind doing us some enlightening? ;-)

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