Diwali special: The light of the humble diya represents knowledge, hope, truth, victory
On Diwali, the Divine descends in the form of light (the diya) to reassure mortals that evil (darkness) will be and shall be overcome by good (light)
As innumerable rows of diyas light up every nook and corner of India on Deepawali, they turn a no-moon night into a night brighter and more beautiful than a full-moon night. The diya…the deepak…the humble earthen lamp on the day of Diwali and on every other day is one of the most enduring and exhilarating symbols of this country.
What is this diya (radiant lamp)? What does the jyoti (the flame) gently whisper?
The diya in its outward form is a celebration of life. The light of the diya provides joy and hope. It is a beautiful spectacle that the eyes feast on.
But the diya is much more.
The deep jyoti signifies both the divine who is self-effulgent (the paramatma) and illuminates the entire universe and the soul (the atma). The atma is the immortal light within each living being that survives the mortal and becomes one with the paramatma.
From times immemorial, we have yearned for light. The lighting of the diya physically satisfies that yearning and metaphorically reminds us that:
Light is knowledge. Light is hope. Light is truth. Light is victory.
Truth is like light — it shines through a web of deceit and darkness and stands there with its head held high like the flame that burns upward.
Knowledge is light. True knowledge, right knowledge lights up existence and like light, knowledge is endless.
Hope is light. When there is darkness all around, that little ray of hope makes its way through the smallest crack and illuminates the darkest space at the pace of light.
Light is victory — it vanquishes darkness. On Diwali, the Divine descends in the form of light to reassure mortals that evil (darkness) will be and shall be overcome by good (light).
There is another simple message of the sparling rows of deeps. The shining light (prakash) is not contained in space – it does not illuminate only she, who lights it, but everything and everyone around. The light from each individual diya does not jostle for space, the light from all diyas merge together seamlessly and bright becomes brighter and brighter becomes brightest.
The light in us is not meant to illuminate only our lives but the entire earth. And the earth has diversity – diversity of human beings and diversity of living beings. They are all meant to live together, there is no real jostling of space and the unity in that diversity is true light, real light.
The diya in its material form has thrived for many millennia. It is a part of our heritage. If one peruses the artefacts of the Indus-Saraswati civilisation which is today dated to at least 4500+ years back, one realises that one of the most striking exhibits of this age is the humble diya. As I stood staring at the diya at the CSVMS Mumbai, I wondered… am I beholding a piece of antiquity or the perfect diya at the neighbourhood potter to light up my Diwali? It is the same diya — moulded skillfully by the potter with the clay of this country and one can imagine our ancestors lighting up their lives with it. That is the real deal…the real diya — it has survived millennia and will survive many more to come…no electrical lights can light up our Diwali in the way those hand-moulded diyas from our potters do. By the way, this clay diya is environmentally friendly and merges with mother earth leaving no trace except the warmth of its light behind.
Shubha Deepawali — may the light of those innumerable diyas illuminate up your lives and in the words of Padmashri ‘Niraj’:
जलाओ दिए पर रहे ध्यान इतना
अँधेरा धरा पर कहीं रह न जाए।
(You can read the full poem here.)
Garima is an independent business consultant and mentors startups. She is an Indic Studies enthusiast and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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