Butter lamps are traditionally placed on the Buddhist alter as an offering. Butter lamps are offered during meditation practice or ceremonies with the wish that all beings be free of suffering and reach enlightenment. They They are designed to be used with a candle wick, and have a small indent in center of bowl for insertion. They are then filled with coconut oil, butter or vegetable oil. Candles and tea lights may also be used in place of lamp oil method.
The butter lamps help to focus the mind and aid meditation. According to the Root Tantra of Chakrasamvara, "If you wish for sublime realization, offer hundreds of lights." Externally, the lights are seen to banish darkness and internally to dispel the darkness of ignorance to be led to the clear light state of full enlightenment. With just the offering of one butter lamp the benefits are said to be immeasurable.