1. Why do we light a lamp?

In almost every Indian home a lamp is lit daily before the altar of the Lord. In
some houses it is lit at dawn, in some, twice a day – at dawn and dusk – and in a few it is
maintained continuously (Akhanda Deepa). All auspicious functions commence with the
lighting of the lamp, which is often maintained right through the occasion.
Light symbolizes knowledge, and darkness, ignorance. The Lord is the
"Knowledge Principle" (Chaitanya) who is the source, the enlivener and the illuminator
of all knowledge. Hence light is worshiped as the Lord himself.
Knowledge removes ignorance just as light removes darkness. Also knowledge is
a lasting inner wealth by which all outer achievement can be accomplished. Hence we
light the lamp to bow down to knowledge as the greatest of all forms of wealth.
Why not light a bulb or tube light? That too would remove darkness. But the
traditional oil lamp has a further spiritual significance. The oil or ghee in the lamp
symbolizes our vaasanas or negative tendencies and the wick, the ego. When lit by
spiritual knowledge, the vaasanas get slowly exhausted and the ego too finally perishes.
The flame of a lamp always burns upwards. Similarly we should acquire such knowledge
as to take us towards higher ideals.
Whilst lighting the lamp we thus pray:
Deepajyothi parabrahma
Deepa sarva tamopahaha
Deepena saadhyate saram
Sandhyaa deepo namostute
I prostrate to the dawn/dusk lamp; whose light is the Knowledge Principle (the
Supreme Lord), which removes the darkness of ignorance and by which all can be
achieved in life.

2. Why do we have a prayer room?

Most Indian homes have a prayer room or altar. A lamp is lit and the Lord
worshipped each day. Other spiritual practices like japa (repetition of the Lord’s name),
meditation, paaraayana (reading of the scriptures), prayers, and devotional singing etc is
also done here. Special worship is done on auspicious occasions like birthdays,
anniversaries, festivals and the like. Each member of the family - young or old -
communes with and worships the Divine here.
The Lord is the entire creation. He is therefore the true owner of the house we live
in too. The prayer room is the Master room of the house. We are the earthly occupants of
His property. This notion rids us of false pride and possessiveness.
The ideal attitude to take is to regard the Lord as the true owner of our homes and
us as caretakers of His home. But if that is rather difficult, we could at least think of Him
as a very welcome guest. Just as we would house an important guest in the best comfort,
so too we felicitate the Lord’s presence in our homes by having a prayer room or altar,
which is, at all times, kept clean and well-decorated.
Also the Lord is all pervading. To remind us that He resides in our homes with us,
we have prayer rooms. Without the grace of the Lord, no task can be successfully or
easily accomplished. We invoke His grace by communing with Him in the prayer room
each day and on special occasions.
Each room in a house is dedicated to a specific function like the bedroom for
resting, the drawing room to receive guests, the kitchen for cooking etc. The furniture,
decor and the atmosphere of each room are made conducive to the purpose it serves. So
too for the purpose of meditation, worship and prayer, we should have a conducive
atmosphere - hence the need for a prayer room

to be contd....