Why is lighting the lamp important at all religious ceremonies?
In India there is a tradition of lighting a lamp at the beginning of a religious, social or cultural ceremony in the belief that the presence of Agni (fire) ensures success. Fire is one of the five elements that form the human body. Fire is also a transformed form of Surya. For this reason before praying and making offerings to gods and goddesses it is customary to focus the energy by lighting a lamp.
Furthermore, a flame is symbolic of wisdom, through which the darkness of ignorance is dispelled. Offerings to the flame are equated with ones made to God. In places of worship, lamps are for arti to ask the Supreme Spirit to dispel the darkness in our mind and light it with knowledge and wisdom. We seek to be led from darkness to light, from death to immortality.
In the Rig-Veda, 7/4/4, it is said:
O God in the form of light! You reside as a poet in one who is not a poet and as the celestial nectar in death. O God in the form of light! May you never give us unhappiness. May we be happy always.
A lamp teaches one to be upright, rise upwards and dispel darkness. The flame destroys sin and enemies. It ensures good health, purity, happiness and long life.