This is an oil and wick lamp used in temple processions. The portion shown above is normally mounted on a long pole and carried in temple processions with the lamps lit. Boat lamp is the modern name, as the drip basin is shaped like a boat. The top portion contains five circular receptacles for oil. Here the oil receptacles are interconnected, an effective way of distributing oil.
Between the lamp and the oil-drip basin, there are six worshippers with their hands in Anjali Mudra. A long stem of the lamp attached to the bottom of the boat-shaped portion has two side arms containing a devotee each.
On the top, on our right, you see a horse and its rider. The other side’s rider is missing.
There are two documented cases of this lamp’s use in temple festivals.
One is the annual event at KottanKullangara Devi Temple near Chavara in Kollam. During this festival, men dressed as women walk in procession to the temple carrying lit boat-lamps. The is for pleasing the goddess and win her favours in matters related to the devotee’s life.
The other instance is the annual festival at the Thiruvarppu Krishna temple at Kottayam. In this case, it is girls under the age of ten, dress as Krishna, and offer prayers carrying lit boat-lamps.
The lamp at its widest point is about 35 cm across. The height of the metal portion is about 22cm. Well, this is from Kerala. This may date to the eighteenth century.