Why is Ghee preferred over oil for diyas during Pooja?

While lighting the lamp in our homes, we say this Mantra. It is believed that lighting of the lamp destroys our sins and helps in keeping our home and mind pure and spiritual. All temples usually have a ‘Akhand Diya’ or a lamp which is burning brightly 24×7. During Navratri, many families keep an ‘Akhand Diya’ for all the nine days. This is believed to protect the home and family from all dangers and bring prosperity. During Diwali, almost all Hindu houses will have mud Diyas burning bright for at least three nights, welcoming Prabhu Sri Rama and Lakshmi Mata.Lighting a Diya also increases Sattvik vibrations all around.

The Diyas or Lamps itself can be made of gold, silver, bronze, mud or even leaf. Each one has its own importance. Gold and Silver Diyas/Lamps are lit for attracting wealth and prosperity. Earthen and Brass Diyas are used in most religious functions and for everyday use. When somebody dies, we light a Diya inside a coconut shell. Tantriks light the wicks inside lemons. Peepal, Mango and Betel leaves are used as lamps for inviting good health, prosperity and to ward off evil spirits respectively. Though rarely used, Iron Diyas are used to appease Shani (Saturn).

The wicks used in these Diyas too can be of cotton rolled out into a wick, new yellow cloth rolled into a wick, lotus stem or banana stem. The cotton wick bestows prosperity, the cloth wick gives Devi’s blessings, the Lotus stem removes all sins and the banana stem is believed to remove all sorrows.

One must have noticed that not all Diyas or Deepam shave the same number of wicks. Also, during Aartis we do Aartis with Ek Aarti, Panch Aarti, etc. A single (ekmukha) wick bestows regular benefits but this is usually not preferred. Two wicks (Dwimukha) brings harmony and peace in the family and relatives. Usually all households will have 2 wicks in their Diyas. Three wicks (Trimukha) blesses one with progeny (children). Four wicks (Chathurmukha) ensures Dhan and Dhaanya (wealth and food). Five wicks (Pancha mukha) which is usually used in all special Pujas blesses us with Akhanda Aishwarya (Prosperity). And one which is rarely used is the Six wicks (Shanmukha Deepam) which blesses one with Akhanda Gyana (Knowledge) & Vairagya(Renunciation).

It is believed that Lord Shiva once said to His consort Paravati that anyone who would make the Deepa (lamp) burn brighter would become the ruler of the three worlds. Once a rat approached a Deepa in a Shiva temple, wanting to drink the ghee in the lamp, but as it attempted to drink the ghee, he kept pushing the wick and the flame burnt brighter. This rat was subsequently born as the famous emperor Mahabali.

To light the Diya, various oils are used. Most households and temples use Ghee or Til Oil, though other oils too can be used. Let us see which oils are used & their purpose:

  • Ghee : Gram Devta,Trimurti,Lakshmi,Ganesha, Kubera, Kuldevta, Kuldevi.
  • Cow’s Ghee : For Radiance, Heavenly bliss, prosperity, health and happiness.
  • Til :Narayana, Saturn and to remove hurdles in life, keeping away poisonous snakes.
  • Mustard : Saturn and also to ward off diseases
  • Jasmine : For Maha Lakshmi and Kuber
  • Coconut Oil : Ganesha

It is also important to light the lamp facing a particular direction and also keep the flame facing a particular direction …

North – Gives Success in all ventures undertaken. This is the most preferable direction to place and light a lamp. One is blessed with 8 kinds of wealth or Ashta-Aishwarya.

East – For good health and peace of mind.

West – Placing the diya facing West will free one from debts and ensure victory over negative forces.

South – Never place and light a lamp in the south. It is considered inauspicious.


As per the Agni Purana, Cow’s ghee is considered the best lubricant for lighting the Diya. This is because cow’s ghee increases the Sattvik Tattva in the surrounding area. Ghee lamp cleanses our Chakras. While Til and Mustard oil Diyas can purify our Muladhar and Swadishtana Chakras (the below two Chakras), Ghee Diyas can purify our Manipur and Anahat Chakras too and help us rise on our spiritual path.

Our human body is made up of 5 koshas or sheaths – Annamaya, Pranamaya, Manomaya, Vignanamaya and Anandmaya Koshas or the physical body, the pranic body, the mind, the intellect and Bliss, respectively. To climb the ladder of spirituality and to reach Brahman, to realize the Self, one has to cross these koshas. Our various births have caused our body, mind and intellect to be covered in past memories and prarabhdas. To clear the dust that has covered our koshas and to help us attain Jnana, one lights the lamp with Cow’s ghee, because Gou-Mata can help us cleanse our Koshas. Without Agni and Vayu, our understanding of our Prana is incomplete. Ghee Deepams help us cross our barriers and communicate with Brahman. That is why especially on special occasions, we light the Ghee Deepams.

While all other oils increase the Rajas Tattva, Cow Ghee only increases the Sattvik Tattva in ourselves and around us. Til oil too does this to a small extent. ****Please note that candles increase the Tamas Tattva in us and around us. These days, people adopting the Western culture light candles even during Diwali, but this is a wrong practise as per our Sanatan Dharma.


A Diya’s value can be understood most when there is no other light. It burns itself to give us light. The flame of the wick burns upwards encouraging us to reach upwards to our higher selves and towards God.

You be the Diya,

Let me be the Wick.

Your love be the Oil,

Let me burn bright.

I am not scared of burning,

With flames rising high.

Because I’m saddled in Your loving Hands,

And swimming in Your love.

VandeMataram !!!

Jai Hind !!!

Rati Hegde