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Light (àloka) is electromagnetic radiation at a particular wavelength. In the form of lamps or candles light is one of the three things used in the Buddhist påjà or contemplative ceremony, the others being flowers and incense. In Buddhism, as in most traditions, light is used as a metaphor for or is compared with wisdom or understanding because of its characteristic of being able to make things visible. Ràhula, the Buddha’s son, called his father the ‘Torchbearer of Humanity’ (Sn.336).

The Buddha sometimes challenged his audience ‘Will you not seek the Light?’ (Dhp.146) and he referred to his enlightened disciples as ‘Bringers of Light’ (It.80). When the informed Buddhist lights or places lamps before a Buddha statue, he or she contemplates the majesty and liberating power of wisdom and resolves to make it more a part of their daily lives.