The traditional lamp of Kerala (‘nilavilakku’) is lighted with five wicks at homes and during special functions and on auspicious occasions like ‘Pournami’ (full moon day). A lamp with five wicks is called ‘Bhadradeepam’. Each of these five burning wicks is believed to represent five faces of Lord Shiva. The auspicious light of the five-wick lamp (or the bhadradeepam in local parlance) is supposed to bring in wealth and prosperity to the house.
Normally, in households, the lamp is lit with two wicks each joined together and directed towards the East and West in the morning and evening. However, in a Bhadradeepam, each wick and the way it is lit have much significance. Two wicks for each direction are merged together in the form of folded hands have to be placed in the four main directions - east, west, north and south. The fifth wick has to face northeast, which is termed ‘Eassana Kone’ in astrology. That too should have two wicks joined in the shape of praying hands.
When lighting a Bhadradeepam, the first wick that has to be lighted is the one on the northeast direction. This should be followed by lighting other wicks in a symbolic circumambulation pattern - East, South, West and North.