Have you ever looked at an ornately carved lamp in a Kerala hous? With its intricate craftsmanship and bright golden sheen, these lamps occupy the pride of place in the households of God’s own country. What’s their story? Where do they come from? How have they established their place in Kerala’s artistic and spiritual story?
These ‘Pillars of Light’, known throughout the world as Kerala Lamps are integral to several tiruals and ceremonies in Hindu families in Kerala. Also known as Nilavilakku for the Malyalam words Nilam or floor or the ground and Vilakku, meaning lamp, this lamp is a part of daily tradition at home. Every morning as the sun rises, the young girls of the house bring the lamps to the verandah, accompanied by prayers. The same procedure is repeated in the evening, signifying the end of the day and accompanied by prayers to protect the house.
The Nilavilakku is made out of bronze and brass and is characterized by the attention to detail on each piece. The expert craftsmen of Kerala take special pride in customizing each Nilavilakku, showcasing their artistic vision and attention to detail through these exquisite works of art and spirituality. The Nilavilakkus use cotton wicks which are then doused in oil and lit, spreading light and warmth throughout the house.
The appeal of Nilavilakkus has transcended organized religions: with the advent of Christianity in kerala, the custom of lighting these pillars of light has also become popular among the homes and churches of the Saint Thomas Christians, also known as Syrian Christians. Syrian Christian art forms like the Margamkali dance and the marital dance of Parichamuttakali are performed around the Nilavilakkus. These exquisite lamps can also be found in some mosques like the Ponnani Al Maqtoom Juma Masjid and Jarams or holy caves across Kerala.
Artisanscrest’s exclusive community of Kerala artisans has created several customized Nilavilakkus, unique creations for each individual customer. These ornate lamps add a touch of class and opulence to your home while showcasing the customer’s discernment and spreading warmth and light throughout the house.
Get in touch with us and collaborate along with our skilled team of artisans to co-create your own little piece of Indian art history and tradition.