I chose an electronic vilakku, a smaller version of the one that my parents have had ever since they got married. A vilakku is a lamp that has great aesthetic and ceremonial importance. The vilakku photographed below was a gift from my parents given to me on the day I moved into my dorm. As they gave me this tiny vilakku, they told me the story of the vilakku we have at home. The larger, more ornate vilakku at home was brought from India by them after their marriage, and was given to them as a gift from both of their families on their wedding day. It was one of the first few pieces of "furniture" that they had once they came back to America from India and moved in together. Each Sunday since, my mother would, without fail, gather us all in the living room, light the vilakku, and say the necessary prayers before we left for mass.
When they gave me my miniature vilakku, my parents told me that it was not just another cool-looking paperweight but a cultural symbol that carried great religious and sentimental meaning. They told me that although this vilakku may be smaller and electronic, it carried with it the same import as the one at home, or the ones sitting in the churches back in India. They ended by telling me that the vilakku served as a physical manifestation of the dreams and wishes that rested in both my own heart and theirs as well.
– Joshin George