It is a tradition in some Hindu families to light what is called the Maavilakku on Fridays of particular months of the Hindu calender or during the celebrations at the local Maariamman temples. People who follow this ritual of lighting the maavilakku, do it either in the shrines in the temples or in their homes. This may be observed if someone has offered to do this for a particular cause also.
Today being such an auspicious Friday of the Tamil month of Thai, I have observed this tradition at home.
There are certain general principles as ordained by the elders of each family when you follow the traditions. There will be slight variations in the method of preparation or in the observance of rituals.
Ingredients for the Maavu (dough) in which the wick is lighted:
Raw rice 1 litre
Jaggery 600 grams
Ghee 100 grams for lighting the lamp
Wash the rice and soak for about an hour. Drain thoroughly. Pound it to a powder.
Take the rice powder in a bowl and add to it the powdered jaggery mixing them to blend by hand. It will form a thick, stiff lump. This is the basic maavu for the maavilakku.
If you are lighting this in the altar in your home, clean the prayer area and draw a small rangoli pattern. You may use some of the same flour before mixing in the jaggery or draw the rangoli with prepared rice paste.
Take the prepared dough in a flat dish. Make a dent in the centre (I light two lamps, hence divided the dough in two lumps) Place the wick in and pour the ghee in the dent.
Place some sandalwood paste and saffron on the four sides. Place a few flowers too.
Chanting prayers light the lamp. Allow it to burn until all ghee is used up.
Offer coconut, betel leaves and arecanuts along with fruits. You may also prepare any kheer and offer.
If you are doing this in a temple, follow the same procedure and after lighting the lamp, the priest might take it to the inner sanctum for offering. Later you may distribute some of the dough to the other devotees present there and bring back the rest for the family.
All religious festivals were intended to reinforce the joy of sharing. Whether there is a science to follow these procedures or not, we might just do it for such small pleasures.