Thus fire has become an essential part of all Hindu and Buddhist rituals. Lamps (deepas) are lighted during a puja and waved clockwise in front of the image with the right hand, first around its head, then around its central portion, and finally around its feet. The left hand of the person conducting the puja usually holds a small bell that is rung continuously while the lamp is being waved.


Fire was worshipped in ancient India as the God Agni, and today fire is a primary symbol of divine energy. In lighting the flame in front of the image the devotee acknowledges the sacred supremacy of the God or Goddess. Various vegetable oils may be used in deepas, but the most auspicious fuel is the ghee of the cow, or clarified butter. Most lamps are brass, and many are sculpted with sacred symbols relevant to the deity being worshipped. In Buddhism, butter lamps are used at the altar.

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