Nov 13

Perhaps the most well known of the Hindu festivals, Deepavali, or Diwali for short, is a bright, colourful five-day festival celebrating the victory of good over evil, light over darkness, and knowledge over ignorance.

Festival of Light

Although the legends behind the Diwali celebrations differ slightly between countries, there is a common theme: light. Diwali is also known as the ‘festival of lights’, and Hindus herald its arrival by decorating shops and houses with small, clay oil lamps known as ‘diyas’. Did you know that some species in the natural world are capable of creating their own form of light? Check out this awesome Chinese lettuce coral!

Chinese lettuce coral image

Chinese lettuce coral fluorescing under UV light

Lakshmi – the Goddess of Wealth

The new business year starts during Diwali, with the bright lamps guiding and welcoming Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth, into people’s homes to grant them a successful year. This tradition got us thinking about a different kind of wealth: the wealth of nature. Life on Earth is incredibly diverse, ranging from the smallest bug to the largest whale, and it’s amazing how even two individuals of the same species can look so very different. Take these two dyeing poison frogs, for instance…would you have known they were the same species?!

Dyeing poison frog image

Dyeing poison frog - yellow and black morph

Dyeing poison frog image

Dyeing poison frog - blue morph









Floral tributes

As well as the warm, glowing lights, other sacred symbols are used to welcome Hindu deities into homes, including ‘rangoli’. Rangoli are decorative patterns formed on the floors of living rooms and courtyards, often using materials such as coloured rice, flour and sand, and even flower petals. A particularly popular rangoli subject is the beautiful lotus flower.

Lotus flower image

Lotus (Nelumbo nucifera)


In northern India and elsewhere, Diwali celebrates the tale of Rama, a courageous man who fought a war to liberate his wife from her captor, Ravana. Along his journey, Rama met Hanuman, the monkey god, who helped him defeat the evil forces, and who is now worshipped as a symbol of physical strength, perseverance and devotion. Did you know that the gray langur is also known as the Hanuman langur?

Gray langur image

The gray langur is also known as the Hanuman langur

New apparel

In many households, Diwali is a time for families to wear new clothes. We’re fairly certain that, with such stunning plumage, the seven-coloured tanager and the military macaw would be rather proud to join in and show off their beautifully colourful attire!

Military macaw image

Military macaws

Seven-coloured tanager image

Seven-coloured tanager









 A time for sharing

During the Diwali celebrations, families and friends prepare meals together, exchange gifts, and share sweets and snacks with one another. With its brightly coloured mouth that almost looks like it’s bordered by four blue light-bulbs, this young Gouldian finch appears to be getting in the spirit of Diwali…although it does seem rather impatient for a tasty treat!

Gouldian finch chick image

Mouth of Gouldian finch chick

Gouldian finch image

Adult black-headed Gouldian finch










 Flowery fireworks

Diwali is also a time to have fun with family and friends, and stunning fireworks displays are especially popular events. We’ve found some fiery flora that would add a bit of ‘ooooh’ and ‘aaaah’ to any Diwali party!

Harlequin flower image

Harlequin flower

Common dandelion image

Common dandelion








Happy Diwali!


Kathryn Pintus, ARKive Text Author

  • Prasanna Parab (November 13th, 2012 at 2:21 pm):

    Yes this is how Diwali has to be celebrated, Thanks a lot !!