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Diwali, the Hindu ‘festival of lights’ celebrates the triumph of good over evil.  Although the legends associated with Diwali vary by region, the festival is essentially a celebration of light which symbolises knowledge, wisdom, goodness, happiness, peace, truth and prosperity. Illumination is therefore one of the most important aspects of the five-day celebrations and lights of all sorts are in great demand during Diwali.

The word diwali means ‘rows of lighted lamps’; homes, shops and public places are illuminated to welcome Lakshmi the goddess of wealth and prosperity and celebrate the triumph of Ram over the demon Raavan.

Traditionally Diwali decorations and worship are not complete without diyas or earthenware oil lamps. However lately, ‘technologically advanced’ imports, such as electrical lamps and lanterns with flickering flames, battery operated candles and LED lights in fancy shapes (outlines of lotus flowers, the word Om and even Ganesha) have taken revellers’ fancy.

The shift in preferences had begun to threaten sales of the traditional diya, however potters in India found a solution to save their trade. Refusing to let cheap foreign imports ruin their seasonal Diwali earnings (one of the most lucrative times of the year), the potters got creative and reinvented their traditional handiwork by creating ‘designer diyas’.

Available in special Diwali shapes such as stars, flowers and paan ka pata (leaf shaped), designer diyas have brought traditional Diwali lights back into fashion. Hand painted in festive colours and elaborately decorated with crystals, sequins and glitter, designer diyas have a rustic chic appeal that make mass market diyas look tacky and positively down market.

Although they are particularly well suited to Diwali, designer diyas can be used as decorations throughout the year; available in colour coordinated gift packs they make excellent presents for Diwali or any other festive season. Authentic designer diyas are available at online boutiques and stores or you can simply buy clay toy pots and bowls (place tea lights inside) at the local potter’s and decorate your own designer diyas for Diwali and the festive season ahead.

Happy Diwali!
Diwali will be celebrated on November 13, 2012.

– Leila Mahfooz Barry

First published in the Adbuzzzz Section of The DAWN National Weekend Advertiser on November 11, 2012.

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