For an oil lamp to burn, the wick has to be in the oil yet out of the oil. If the wick is drowned in oil, it cannot bring light.

Life is like the wick of the lamp, you have to be in the world yet remain untouched by it. If you are drowned in the materialism of the world, you cannot bring joy and knowledge in your life. By being in the world, yet not drowning in the worldly aspect of it, we can be the light of joy and knowledge.

Diwali is the celebration of the light of wisdom thus born. It celebrates the victory of good over evil, light over darkness and knowledge over ignorance.

Lights are lit on this day not just to decorate homes, but also to communicate this profound truth about life. Light the lamp of wisdom and love in every heart and bring a radiant smile on every face.

Light a thousand lamps to dispel the darkness of ignorance.

Every human being has some good qualities. And every lamp that you light is symbolic of this. Some people have forbearance, some have love, strength, generosity; others have the ability to unite people.

The latent values in you are like a lamp. Don’t be satisfied with lighting just one lamp; light a thousand, for, you need to light many lights to dispel the darkness of ignorance. 

By lighting the lamp of wisdom in you and acquiring knowledge, you awaken all the facets of your being. When they are lit and awakened, it is Diwali.

Diwali is a celebration to forget the bickering and negativities that have happened through the year

Another profound symbolism is in the firecrackers. In life, you often become like a firecracker, waiting to explode with your pent-up emotions, frustration and anger. When you keep suppressing your emotions, cravings, aversions, hatred, it is bound to reach a bursting point, much like the firecrackers. 

Unless and until the pent-up emotions in you clear, you cannot experience the newness in you. Diwali means to be in the present, so drop the regrets of the past and the worries of the future and live in the moment totally.

There is another symbolism in the gift exchange and the distribution of sweets. Sweets and gifts exchange symbolize the dispelling of the bitterness of the past and renewal of friendship for the times to come.

Any celebration is incomplete without the spirit of seva (service); whatever we have received from the Divine we should share it with others—for, it is in giving that we receive. That is true celebration. Celebration also means dissolving all differences and basking in the glory of the atman (soul). Everyone in society has to become wise. Happiness and wisdom have to spread and that can happen when all come together and celebrate in knowledge.

Diwali is a celebration to forget the bickering and negativities that have happened through the year. It is a time when you throw light on the wisdom you have gained and welcome a new beginning.

When true wisdom dawns, it gives rise to celebration. Often in celebrations, you tend to lose focus or awareness. To maintain awareness in the midst of celebrations, the ancient rishis (sages) brought sacredness and puja (rituals) to every celebration.

For the same reason, Diwali is also the time for pujas. The spiritual aspects of Diwali add depth to the celebrations. Any celebration has to be spiritual, since a celebration without spirituality has no depth.

For the one who is not in knowledge, Diwali comes only once a year, but for the wise, Diwali is every moment and every day.  This Diwali, celebrate with knowledge and take a sankalpa (intention) to serve humanity.

Light the lamp of love in your heart; the lamp of abundance in your home; the lamp of compassion to serve others; the lamp of Knowledge to dispel the darkness of ignorance and the lamp of gratitude for the abundance that the Divine has bestowed on us.


  • Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

    Global Humanitarian. Spiritual Leader. Peace Ambassador

    Sri Sri Ravi Shankar is the founder of the Art of Living Foundation and the International Association for Human Values which collaborate on humanitarian initiatives worldwide. Sri Sri’s work includes armed conflict resolution, U.S. Veteran PTSD relief, prisoner rehabilitation, addiction treatment, poverty alleviation and human rights advocacy. He developed a powerful breathing technique called Sudarshan Kriya Yoga (SKY) that makes use of the relation between breath and emotions by including specific rhythms of breath that harmonize the body, mind and emotions and help individuals find relief from stress. His programs have reached an estimated 370 million people in 155 countries.