What Would Diwali Be
Any celebration of Diwali would be incomplete without Diyas! A Diya can be described as an earthen lamp which is lit as part of the Diwali celebration. A Diya is usually made of clay, but can also be found in other materials. The lamps are filled with oil or Ghee (a clarified butter used in Indian cooking) and a cotton wool wick is usually used to light the Diya.
Diwali, the Hindu festival of light, is also called Deepawali (or Dipawali) in certain parts of India. The word Deep (Dip) means Diyas. Diyas are an integral part of Diwali and although various types of lamps and candles are used for decoration and lighting, the tradition of lighting Diyas is still important.
The mythology surrounding the use of Diyas is varied. One story states that when Lord Rama returned home after 14 years of exile (for killing Ravana), his kingdom of Ayodhya was decorated with Ghee fuelled Diyas to welcome him. In fact it has become customary to light Diyas as a way of welcoming important guests or relatives.
Other beliefs behind lighting Diyas are: celebrating the victory of Krishna over Narkasura who was killed by Krishna in the Dwapara Yuga. The Sikh community believes that when Guru Gobind Singh returned to Amritsar, the city was luminous with Ghee fueled Diyas welcoming him.
Diwali falls on Amawasya, a day on which there is no moon and it is one of the darkest nights of the month. Bright Diwali Diyas are used to illuminate the surroundings and as a welcome to the Gods.
With the growing popularity of decorating the Hindu home with these lamps, Diyas are now available in many different materials, colors, sizes and styles. There are painted and colorful Diyas. Mirrors are applied to give a sparkling look. Diyas can be painted with special Diwali motifs and decorated with fragrant dry flowers which adds a scent to the light. Even multi spout Diyas with 7, 11 or 21 spouts are available.
So whether it's the traditional earthenware or a new bright and mirrored lamp, the Diya it is going to continue to remain a sparkling and significant part of Diwali celebrations.
Here are some samples of colorful Diyas
photo credit: via flick
photo credit: via flickr
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