Tibetan Butter Lamps

It is good to offer Tibetan butter lamps whenever you feel there is a need for more light and hope in the world.

Offering butter lamps is deeply ingrained in the Tibetan tradition. Part of daily Tibetan practice, people light butter lamps for many occasions. It is common to offer butter lamps for those who have passed away or for those who are sick. Butter lamps are also lit for happy occasions like birthdays, marriages, and for one’s wishes to come true. Tibetans light butter lamps on sacred days in the Tibetan Buddhist calendar, such as the 10th, 15th and 25th day of each lunar month, as well as during the holy month of Saga Dawa.

Tibetan butter lamps, offering butter lamps, lighting butter lamps

Tibetan Buddhist nuns lighting butter lamps. Photo courtesy of Brian Harris

Tibetan butter lamps are a common feature of Tibetan Buddhist temples and monasteries throughout the Himalayas. Traditionally, Tibetans used clarified butter from dri (female yaks), but in exile they use ghee.

offering Tibetan butter lamps

Tibetan Buddhist nuns add ghee and cotton wicks to hundreds of Tibetan butter lamps in preparation for a puja for someone who is sick. Photo courtesy of Brian Harris.

Usually during morning prayers, Tibetan families offer a butter lamp and water bowls as part of their household shrine or altar. Part of the symbolism of lighting butter lamps is to dispel darkness and ignorance. Buddhist teachings consider ignorance as the source of suffering in the world.

Offering Tibetan Butter Lamps

You don’t have to be a Buddhist to sponsor butter lamps or prayers by the Tibetan Buddhist nuns in India.

If you, someone you love or even strangers are suffering, you can pay for butter lamps to be lit or prayers to be said for them via the Tibetan Nuns Project. The cost to light 100 butter lamps is $10. There are many types of pujas which you can request from the nuns.

When requesting a puja or prayers from the Tibetan Nuns Project, please provide information about the purpose of the prayer and who they are for.

Tibetan butter lamps

Tibetan nuns inside the butter lamp house at Dolma Ling Nunnery and Institute. The building in set apart from the rest of the nunnery to prevent fires. Photo courtesy of Brian Harris

Lighting butter lamps is a spiritual practice. The entire process is carried out in a meditative and devout manner. When you sponsor the lighting of butter lamps, you also earn merit for your generosity and compassion.

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