Elders in our families are unable to withstand to watch the children blowing out candles on their birthday as lighting up lamps is considered auspicious here and it symbolizes brightening up the people’s lives. Earlier traditional lamps (kuthu vilakku) were treated as supreme deities at home, but statues & pictures gradually gained the special status rather than those lamps. Nowadays we gift lamps to our friends & relatives for wedding or for house-warming ceremony wishing them happy & prosperous life. We also prepare edible lamps & light them during Thirukarthigai festival.
Besides it is a custom that newly married girls are sent to her husband’s house with traditional silver lamps and brass lamps indicating to bring prosperity & joy to the family.
Incidentally we follow a distinct ritual by lighting sweet edible lamps (maavilakku) in front of deities at home or in the temple for a specific period to fulfill our wishes.
But on the day of Karthigai Deepam, a festival of lights celebrated in south India, we offer edible lamps both sweet & salted lamps to deities and illuminate the entire house with lamps made of silver, brass, ceramic, or clay.
I have prepared delightful maavilakku using millet flour instead of rice flour, it is aromatic, delicious & nourishing than rice flour maavilakku. Now lets prepare sweet edible lamp aka maavilakku:
Edible Lamps-Thinai Maavilakku Recipe
- 1 cup of foxtail millet flour (thinai maavu)
- 2/3 cup of powdered jaggery (vellam)
- A pinch of powdered cardamom
- 1/2 tsp of ghee (optional)
- 2 tbsp of coconut water or plain water
- Add millet flour, jaggery & cardamom powder into mixer jar and whip for a minute to combine together.
- Transfer the flour mixture to a mixing bowl.
- Add ghee and mix well.
- Pour coconut water little by little and knead into a soft but firm dough for 10 min.
- Shape the dough into a lamp as shown below and you can use the back of spoon to smooth en the surface.
- Pour ghee into the dent at the center and place as many wicks as you want.
- Apply turmeric paste at the place where each wick touches the dough on the edge.
- Place maavilakku on the plate or banana leaf and decorate it with flowers before lighting it.
We can prepare maavilakku using rice flour, millet flour or any other traditional rice flour, here I have shown the mavilakku using red rice flour.
Edible Lamps – Karthigai Kozhukattai recipe
Yields: 13 small lamps
- ½ cup of rice flour (I used store bought idiyappa maavu)
- 1½ cup of water
- ½ tsp of salt
- ¼ tsp of sesame oil for dough
Salted lamp making procedure:
- Heat a pan with water, salt & oil in high flame.
- When it reaches to rolling boil, add flour into the water.
- Immediately blend flour with water using a wooden spatula.
- Remove from flame.
- Grease your palm with sesame oil.
- Shape the dough into small lamps and steam them for 5 minutes.
- Now salted lamps are ready to be lit.
How to serve edible lamps:
We slice maavilakku & serve along with fresh coconut pieces as below, and both the maavilakku & vilakku kozhukattai taste divine when taken along with coconut meat.
How to light edible lamps:
We usually burn sweet lamps in ghee and salted lamps in sesame oil, and we apply turmeric paste before lighting them.
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Love this! We too have this custom in our family – where we make these kind of lamps and do Aarti to God… Thank you so much
Oh! Nice to know about this. Thank you so much.
Lovely photos, and I really like the idea of them being edible … maybe the cows could get some too 🙂
How pretty….That’s a beautiful and amazing creation…? Kudos ?
Thanks a lot for the kind appreciation.
You are genius.!
You are too kind, thanks!
Ohh never thought it can be eaten too.
A gourmet, in flame! How exciting!! 🙂
Ahh! Thanks so much for the lovely comment!! 🙂
Unique tradition…nice to know about it.Thanks for sharing.
Most welcome! Thanks for reading.
What a beautiful tradition Megala!
Yes, it is. Thanks Sandhya!
Wow! Another great post. So nice to learn about your traditions and this unique custom is truly beautiful & awesome. Thanks for sharing. Have a lovely day Megala.
Thank you so much! Great day to you too. 🙂
Thank you !
You’re welcome, all of your dishes look wonderful?
I always wondered about these. This was such a good post.
Such a beautiful post , so well explained.Great idea of edible lamps and nice to learn something new ! Thanks for sharing Megala!!
Pleasure is all mine, Nisha! 🙂
This is the most beautiful thing! I read and read, I search and search, I think and think … this may be the most challenging dish in my “experiment ^^”. However, I want to try!
Oh, nice! Thanks so much! ?
I would say best presentation of yours… Feeling traditional..
Thank you so much!
This is so intriguing, I have never seen anything like it.. and I’m from India!
Yes, it is really astonishing even some of the south Indians find this a unique custom. It makes me feel how India is so diverse that every region here follows distinct culture and traditions.
I didn’t know this was even a possibility.
Hahaha! Thank you! 🙂
Such a beautiful, meaningful tradition… And wow, I never thought it was possible to make edible candles! I wonder if it’s possible to use coconut oil instead of ghee to make them vegan?
Sorry for the late reply, I really don’t know how I missed it!
Yes, it is indeed a unique tradition to light edible lamps, and we use sesame oil for burning these lamps as it is longer lasting than coconut oil. But you can use coconut oil or olive oil for pleasant flavors.
THey are so beautiful 🙂
Thank you! 🙂
Lovely presentation and loved lighting lamps for Karthigai in our house too! Great pics Megala 🙂
Wow fantastic and what a beautiful presentation, Megala loved the diyas too good. Thanks for the beautiful share.
Yes, I enjoyed posting this as well. 🙂 Thank you.
Welcome Megala and so beautiful were the lamps.
Awesome ?nd yup luv it too we call it dive in Marathi
Oh, thanks! 🙂
This is so interesting Megala. Inspite of being a South Indian, I was not aware of edible lamps. I am really fascinated by it?
Wow ???????its amazing
Thanks so much!
These lamps look so beautiful, Megala! 🙂
Love that you have made these using foxtail millet. We typically use rice flour to make these edible lamps.
We also usually prepare maavilakku with rice flour, but I find thinai flour as the best alternate. 🙂
Thank you so much.
Salted lamps are very new to me, I never known or heard about this salted lamp. Thanks for sharing
I thought salted lamps are lighted in everyone’s house here for Karthigai, now I feel it may be a custom followed only in our families, let me check this out! 🙂
Wow ! So beautiful Megala
Wow! What a unique and beautiful post!!! You amaze me!
Wow that’s really useful information, I will definitely try to make them. Thank you ?
I’m so glad, thanks a lot!
Beautiful post! My mom use to make lamps out of wheat flour dough during tulsi puja but those were not cooked so we never ate them.
Really amazing to find how we, Indians, are so diverse in every aspect. Thank you so much!
A beautiful post: the decoration, the lamps and the recipes.
Thank you so much!
Very nice! We do make lamps out of wheat flour in Navratri and Diwali but dont eat them:)
Oh, really? Now I understand why people are surprised to find the lamps being edible. 🙂
Really beautiful. You have surpassed yourself with this one, Megala.
I’m so happy to hear this. Thank you.
Wow, I have never heard of edible lamps, great work Megala ????
Nice presentation.Similar edible lamps my mom makes it with rice flour.
Yes, we do make with rice flour, here I just tried a healthier version with millets. Hope you like this idea as well. Thank you!
Beautiful! I’ve never seen edible lamps before~ amazing.
How very beautiful they are, Megala; and to think they can be eaten is simply delightful. 🙂
Yes! 🙂 Thank you!
So beautiful and well decorated ???
Amazing 🙂 I learnt something new and interesting 🙂
Thank you so much Ruta!
Wow, these are super! Neva heard about them before!❤️
Loved the presentation too!❤️
Wow, these are amazing!! Never heard about edible lamps.. thanks for sharing ?
Most welcome! 🙂
Such a beautiful post. Love all the Diya pictures??
Yes, I thoroughly enjoyed decorating these lamps, and it is indeed a pleasure posting this here. 🙂 Thank you so much!
Oh, wow. Learned something new today, Megala. Great post
Thank you! 🙂
Oh My…. great!! Kudos, Megala!! ??
Ahh..brings back childhood memories..Singaporeans follow these traditions here as well since most of our Indian diaspora is made up of Tamils as u know;) ..I distinctly remember maavilakkus and kozhukattais being given to visitors to eat after offering..was not a big fan of maavilakkus then though as it had a slightly raw flour taste to it(at least the ones I ate) but the charred part was a treat indeed haha.. I remember being so intrigued by the idea of edible lamps hahaha! Thanks for the post ,very detailed and informative as usual<3
Nice to know that Tamilians living in Singapore still follow these traditions. As children we all enjoyed lighting lamps inside and outside the house during Karthigai festival and watching them carefully not being affected by the winds. Glad that this post evoked your childhood memory as well. 🙂
Thank you so much!
So lovely!! Thank you for sharing this with us Megala huge hugs
You are very welcome 🙂
So interesting! Thanks for sharing Megala:)
Thank you sooo much! 🙂
I’m a South Indian too and I’m surprised to get to know about these now!
These lamps are prepared on the day of of Thirukarthigai in our homes every year, and are so popular down the south Tamilnadu.
Vilakku plays a huge role in our families, my grand parents used to offer pooja to vilakku than deities, and vilakku poojai was performed rigorously in those days.
Thanks Sana for stopping by.
Beautiful…. I never thought about this….. Out of the box
Thanks so much for your kind appreciation.
Wow, Meg. I have been in South India all my life and I hadn’t heard of edible lamps before.
Oh, it is called as maavilakku, I think you might have heard about this. But these salted lamps are popular mainly in Tirunelveli, Kanyakumari regions, and even in Srilanka.
Thanks Rekha for stopping by.
Wow – these are amazing and beautiful. Do you eat the lamps after burning them or do you eat different lamps than are burned? And do you need to let them naturally go out before eating them since blowing out candles is discouraged?
Thanks for sharing all of the things you do. It is always interesting to read what you post.
Yes, we eat the same, the burnt portion tastes just divine.
Our grand mothers used to keep saying that we should not allow the lamps go off on their own, we need to use one of these flowers to put the flame off. But we don’t follow it nowadays. 🙂
I’m so glad that you find this post interesting, thank you so much !
Oh interesting – so many details to remember with all of these traditions. It must require tremendous mindfulness. I feel like much of our generation, at least here, couldn’t hold all of that in the top of mind for so long.
There is something about certain burned foods that actually tastes good.
So true! 🙂