|Source: Abu'l-Fazl 'Allami, A'IN-I AKBARI (3 vols.). Vol. 1 trans. H. Blochmann, 1927. Vol. 1, pp. 50-52. Ed. *ZDJ*|
Book 1, Chapter 18: On Illuminations
|His Majesty maintains that it is a
religious duty and divine praise to worship fire and light; surly, ignorant
men consider this forgetfulness of the Almighty, and fire-worship. But
the deep-sighted know better. As the external form of the worship of "the
select" (the members of the Divine Faith) is based upon propriety, and
as people think the neglect of some sort of worship abominable, there can
be nothing improper in the veneration of that exalted element which is
the source of man's existence, and of the duration of his life; nor should
base thoughts enter such a matter.
How beautifully has Shaykh Sharf 'ud-Din said: "What can be done with a man who is not satisfied with the lamp when the sun is down?" Every flame is derived from that fountain of divine light (the sun), and bears the impression of its holy essence. If light and fire did not exist, we should be destitute of food and medicines; the power of sight would be of no avail to the eyes. The fire of the sun is the torch of God's sovereignty.
At noon of the day, when the sun enters the 19th degree of Aries, the whole world being then surrounded by his light, they expose a round piece of a white and shining stone, called in Hindi Surajkrant, to the rays of the sun. A piece of cotton is then held near it, which catches fire from the heat of the stone. This celestial fire is committed to the care of proper persons. The lamp-lighters, torch-bearers, and cooks of the household, use it for their offices; and when the year has passed away in happiness, they renew the fire. The vessel in which this fire is preserved, is called Agingir, i.e. fire-pot.
There is also a shining white stone, called Chandrkant, which, upon being exposed to the beams of the moon, drips water.
Every afternoon, one ghari (24 minutes) before sunset, his Majesty, if riding, alights, or, if sleeping, he is awakened. He then lays aside the splendor of royalty, and brings his external appearance in harmony with his heart. And when the sun sets, the attendants light twelve white candles, on twelve candlesticks of gold and silver, and bring them before his Majesty, when a singer of sweet melodies, with a candle in his hand, sings a variety of delightful airs to the praise of God, beginning and concluding with a prayer for the continuance of this auspicious reign. His Majesty attaches the utmost importance to praise and prayer, and earnestly asks God for renewed light.
It is impossible to describe the beauty and various forms of the candle sticks and shades, and to give an account of the offices of the workmen. Some of the candlesticks weigh ten mans and upwards, and are adorned with various designs; some single, others of two branches and more: they give light to the internal eye. His Majesty has invented a candlestick, one yard high. Five others are placed on the top of it, and each is adorned with the figure of an animal. White wax candles, three yards and upwards in length, are cast for it, so that a ladder is required to snuff it. Besides there are everywhere flambeaux, both inside and outside, which increase the light very much. The first, second, and third nights of every lunar month, when there is moonlight but for a short time, eight wicks are used; from the fourth to the tenth, they decrease one in number every night, so that on the tenth night, when the moon is very bright, one is sufficient; and they continue in this state till the fifteenth, and increase one wick every day from the sixteenth to the nineteenth. For the twentieth night the number is the same as on the nineteenth; on the twenty-first and the twenty-second they increase one daily; the twenty-third is same as the twenty-second; and from the twenty-fourth to the last, eight wicks are lighted up. They allow for every wick one ser of oil, and half a ser of cotton. In some places there are fat-burners, where grease instead of oil is burnt. The allowance varies according to the size of the wick.
In order to render the royal camp conspicuous to those who come from far, his Majesty has caused to be erected, in front of the Durbar, a pole upwards of forty yards high, which is supported by sixteen ropes: and on the top of the pole is a large lantern, which they call Akas-diya. Its light, seen from great distances, guides the soldiers to the imperial camp, and helps them to find their tents. In former times, before the lamp was erected, the men had to suffer hardships from not being able to find the road.
In this department Mansabdars, Ahadis, and other troops are employed. The allowance of a foot soldier never exceeds 2400, and is never less than 80 dams.
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