Edible Lamps

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.

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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.

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Incidentally we follow a distinct ritual by lighting sweet lamps (maavilakku) in front of deities at home or in the temple for a specific period to fulfill our wishes.

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But on the day of Karthigai Deepam, a festival of lights celebrated in south India, we offer sweet lamps & salted lamps to deities and illuminate the entire house with lamps made of silver, brass, ceramic, or clay.

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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 lamp aka maavilakku:

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  • 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
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Maavilakku making procedure:

  • 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.
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Salted lamp recipe:

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Yields: 13 small lamps


  • Β½ cup of rice flour (I used store bought idiyappa maavu)
  • 1Β½ cup of water
  • Β½ tsp of salt
  • ΒΌ 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.
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How to serve edible lamps: They taste heavenly when served with fresh coconut pieces.

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Please note: We usually burn sweet lamps in ghee and salted lamps in sesame oil.

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