By Swami Harshananda
Prabhāmaṇḍala literally means ‘circle of light’.
Behind the icons ceremonially established in temples and meant for worship, there is invariably an arch of effulgence like the solar orb. This is generally made of metal strip and encompasses the image. This arch is called ‘prabhāmaṇḍala’ or ‘prabhāvalī’. It may be round or elliptical in shape and has ornamental designs. It is supported on either side by a pillar-like motif or structure. The top- center part has the head of a leonine figure known as the kīrtimukha. The prabhāmaṇḍala is a detachable unit. The metal strip may have a support of wooden strip. If the image in the temple is of stone, the prabhāmaṇḍala is also etched on the stone.
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore