Diwali diyas
Symmetrical Diwali diyas
Diya for Diwali
A diya lamp with swastika engraved interior

A diya, diyo, deya,[1] deeya, dia, divaa, deepa, deepam, deep, deepak or saaki (Sanskrit: दीपम्, romanizedDīpam) is an oil lamp made from clay or mud with a cotton wick dipped in oil or ghee. These lamps are commonly used in the Indian subcontinent and they hold sacred prominence in Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, and Jain prayers as well as religious rituals, ceremonies and festivals including Diwali.

Traditional use

Diyas are symbolically lit during prayers, rituals, and ceremonies; they are permanent fixtures in homes and temples. The warm, bright glow emitted from a diya is considered auspicious, regarded to represent enlightenment, prosperity, knowledge and wisdom. Diyas represent the triumph of light over dark, good over evil with the most notable example of this being on the day of Diwali. Diwali is celebrated every year to celebrate the triumph of good over evil as told in the Hindu epic, the Ramayana. Diwali marks the day Rama, Sita, and Lakshmana returned home to Ayodhya after 14 years in exile, after the defeat of Ravana. According to tradition, to welcome Rama, Sita, and Lakshmana home, the citizens of Ayodhya are said to have lit up the streets with diyas. They are regarded to be associated with Lakshmi in Hindu iconography and worship.[2]


Worship and prayers

Lit diyas that are placed before deities during prayer in temples and then used to bless worshippers is referred to as an arati.

A similar lamp called a butter lamp is used in Tibetan Buddhist offerings as well.

Hindu rituals

Birth: The lighting of diya is also part of the Hindu religion rituals related to birth.[10]

Arti (Hindi: आरती, romanizedĀrtī) or Arati (Sanskrit: आरति, romanizedĀrati)[11][12] is a Hindu ritual employed in worship, part of a puja, in which light (from a flame lit using camphor, ghee or oil) is ritually waved for the veneration of deities.[13][14][15] Arti also refers to the songs sung in praise of the deity, when the light is being offered. Sikhs also perform arti in the form of arti kirtan which involves only devotional singing but Nihang Sikhs specifically perform arti which uses light as well.[16]


Top of the ornamental Nachiarkoil or Annam lamp of Tamilnadu

In terms of the choice of material, the kiln fired earthenware lamps followed by the metallic lamps with multiple wicks, mostly of brass known as Samai, are the most common, though other materials are also used such as patravali floating lamp made from leaves or permanent lamps made of stones.

In terms of wick design, diyas with one wick are most common, followed by the two wick style, but other variations such as four, five or seven wick lamps are also made.

In terms of overall lamps design, the ornamental lamps come in various designs. The iconic Nachiarkoil lamp, also known as "Annam lamp", is produced exclusively in by the Pather (Kammalar) community in Nachiyar Koil of Tamil Nadu.[17][18]

See also


  1. ^ Sacred Places of a Lifetime. Washington DC: National Geographic Society. 2008. p. 270. ISBN 978-1-4262-0336-7.
  2. ^ Stutley, Margaret (9 April 2019). The Illustrated Dictionary of Hindu Iconography. Routledge. p. 390. ISBN 978-0-429-62425-4.
  3. ^ The Asiatic Journal and Monthly Register for British and Foreign India, China, and Australia Front Cover Parbury, Allen, and Company, 1834, page 346
  4. ^ Tej K. Bhatia and Naresh Sharma "The Routledge Intermediate Hindi Reader", Routledge, 2015 ISBN 1317962850, 9781317962854
  5. ^ Tracy Pintchman (2005). Guests at God's Wedding: Celebrating Kartik among the Women of Benares. State University of New York Press. pp. 59–65. ISBN 978-0-7914-8256-8. Archived from the original on 26 December 2018. Retrieved 17 August 2018.
  6. ^ James G. Lochtefeld (2002), The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Hinduism: A–M, Volume 1, Rosen Publishing, p. 355, ISBN 978-0-8239-3179-8
  7. ^ Gajrani, S. (2004). History, Religion and Culture of India. Gyan Publishing House. p. 207. ISBN 978-81-8205-061-7. Archived from the original on 30 September 2023. Retrieved 22 February 2023.
  8. ^ Spagnoli, Cathy; Samanna, Paramasivam (1999). Jasmine and Coconuts: South Indian Tales. Libraries Unlimited. p. 133. ISBN 978-1-56308-576-5. Archived from the original on 30 September 2023. Retrieved 22 February 2023.
  9. ^ Naganath, Dr S. Srikanta Sastri, English Translation by S. (11 May 2022). Indian Culture: A Compendium of Indian History, Culture and Heritage. Notion Press. p. 374. ISBN 978-1-63806-511-1. Archived from the original on 30 September 2023. Retrieved 22 February 2023.((cite book)): CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  10. ^ "Introduction to death & dying". srimatham.com. Retrieved 25 April 2018.
  11. ^ Woodhead, Linda; Partridge, Christopher; Kawanami, Hiroko (13 January 2016). Religions in the Modern World: Traditions and Transformations. Routledge. p. 68. ISBN 978-1-317-43960-8.
  12. ^ Monier-Williams, Sir Monier (2004). Brahmanism and Hinduism: Or Religious Thought and Life in Asia. Cosmo. p. 94. ISBN 978-81-7755-873-9.
  13. ^ admin (19 May 2021). "Aarti । Why do we do Aarti?". Simple Hinduism. Retrieved 9 November 2023.
  14. ^ Michaels, Axel (2004). Hinduism: Past and Present. Princeton University Press. p. 232. ISBN 978-0-691-08952-2.
  15. ^ Flood, Gavin D. (13 July 1996). An Introduction to Hinduism. Cambridge University Press. p. 209. ISBN 978-0-521-43878-0.
  16. ^ "Aarti". 25 August 2023. Retrieved 9 November 2023.
  17. ^ PM Narendra Modi gifts Xi Jinping Annam lamp, Times of India, 11 October 2019.
  18. ^ Largest collection of traditional diyas (lamps), World Records India, 9 November 2020.