Diya (lamp)

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Diwali diyas
Diwali diyas
Diwali Diya.jpg
A diya lamp with a swastika interior.

A diya, diyo, deya,[1] deeya, dia, divaa, deepa, deepam, deep , deepak or saki is an oil lamp made from clay or mud with a cotton wick dipped in ghee. Diyas are native to 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.[2]

Traditional use[edit]

Clay 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 - it represents 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 Lord Rama, Goddess Sita and Lakshmana returned home to Ayodhya after 14 years in exile, away from their home fighting and eradicating evil. To welcome Lord Rama, Goddess Sita and Lakshmana home, citizens of Ayodhya lit up the streets with diyas.

Traditionally, diyas are lit every morning within Mandirs.

Whilst lighting a diya, some also chant the Sanskrit mantra Shubham Karoti Kalyanam:

शुभं करोति कल्याणमारोग्यं धनसंपदा ।

शत्रुबुद्धिविनाशाय दीपज्योतिर्नमोऽस्तुते ॥

दीपज्योतिः परब्रह्म दीपज्योतिर्जनार्दनः ।

दीपो हरतु मे पापं दीपज्योतिर्नमोऽस्तुते ॥[3]

Shubham Karoti Kalyaannam-Aarogyam Dhana-Sampadaa |

Shatru-Buddhi-Vinaashaaya Diipa-Jyotir-Namostute ||

Diipa-Jyotih Para-Brahma Diipa-Jyotir-Janaardanah |

Diipo Haratu Me Paapam Diipa-Jyotir-Namostute ||


I pay my salutation (namaskara) to the light / lamp which brings auspiciousness; prosperity, good health, abundance of money and wealth, and the destruction of the intellect’s enemy. The light of the lamp represents the Supreme Brahman as well as Janardhana (Vishnu), let the light absolve the sins, I pay my salutations to this light / lamp.

This shloka is recited while lighting the lamp. Light is considered a symbol of auspiciousness, prosperity, and abundance in many cultures. It is believed that deepam is the symbol of knowledge.


  • Tealight Diyas used for decoration during Diwali
    Diwali: The lighting of diyas forms a part of celebrations and rituals of the important day in the Hindu calendar. Houses are decorated with small diyas placed at boundaries and entrances.[4] In fact, the name of Diwali is derived from the Sanskrit word Deepavali, which means the row of lights ("deep" means Diya and "avali" means row).[5]
  • Karthikai Deepam: Diyas, also known as deepam in Tamil Nadu, can be lighted, especially during the Karthikai Deepam.

Worship and prayers[edit]

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

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

Hindu rituals[edit]

Birth: The lighting of diya is also part of the Hindu religion rituals related to birth.[6][7][8]


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.[9][10]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Sacred Places of a Lifetime. Washington DC: National Geographic Society. 2008. p. 270. ISBN 978-1-4262-0336-7.
  2. ^ "Diwali: Significance of a Diya". Zee Media Corporation Ltd. Retrieved 19 July 2013.
  3. ^ "Shubham Karoti Kalyanam - In sanskrit with meaning". Retrieved 10 June 2021.
  4. ^ The Asiatic Journal and Monthly Register for British and Foreign India, China, and Australia Front Cover Parbury, Allen, and Company, 1834, page 346
  5. ^ Tej K. Bhatia and Naresh Sharma "The Routledge Intermediate Hindi Reader", Routledge, 2015 ISBN 1317962850, 9781317962854
  6. ^ "Rituals after death as per Hinduism". Hindu Janajagruti Samiti. Retrieved 25 April 2018.
  7. ^ "Introduction to death & dying". Retrieved 25 April 2018.
  8. ^ "Hindu Death Rites". Asian Cremation USA. Retrieved 25 April 2018.
  9. ^ PM Narendra Modi gifts Xi Jinping Annam lamp, Times of India, 11 October 2019.
  10. ^ Largest collection of traditional diyas (lamps), World Records India, 09 november 2020.