How to light a correct ‘Divo’

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Nearly all of us have, at some point in our lives, lit a Divo, either at home or on our visit to the Fire Temple. Many Parsis have a fascination for doing a Divo, either on a specific day or Roj, or at a particular place or Agiary. In our blind following of this important tradition, we often make serious mistakes which go against the basic laws of the Zarathushtrian faith.

It is necessary to say a few words about doing the Divo in the correct manner.

The Divo should be preferably done in a metallic vessel (silver, or copper) or in a glass specially reserved for that purpose only. The vessel/glass should be handled and cleaned only by the person lighting the Divo, and the task should not be delegated to the ever present non-Parsi domestic help. It may sound obvious but still needs to be restated that all these activities should be done only after taking a bath and putting on a fresh set of clothes.

The medium in which the Divo is done is an important criteria. The first preference is pure Ghee made out of cow’s milk. (Many Parsis still make Ghee at home from the left over malai or cream from their daily supply of milk. However, the milk most of us get at home is buffalo milk and not cow’s milk, which has very low fat content.) Several brands of pure cow’s milk Ghee are available today. My personal preference is the Dynamix brand, followed by Anik and Brittania. The popular Amul and Sagar brand are made from buffalo milk and are therefore not suitable. Cow’s Ghee has a very distinct aroma and a deep yellow colour whereas Ghee made from buffalo’s milk is pale white in colour. Although lighting a Divo from pure cow’s Ghee may seem an expensive proposition, it is not if we consider the amount of money we waste on non-essential items like eating out, branded clothes etc. If one still feels it is expensive, then the pure Ghee Divo can be lit only on special occasions – like a birthday, or the new year day or All souls Day. The second preference is good quality Castor oil. In Mumbai, the best castor oil is available from M/s. Gordhandas Hansraj at Masjid Bunder. Although expensive (over Rs. 900 for a 15 kg. tin), it burns beautifully, leaves very little soot and gives off a calm, cool light. This is the oil we use at our Daremeher. The third preference would be either coconut oil or palm oil.

The wick, or Kakro is another important choice. Rather than buy the floating Kakro which tend to move around the glass and invariably result in the glass cracking, it is better to invest in the metal ‘ankra’ or stand in which a long Kakro made from cotton wrapped around a slim bamboo stick is used. These are available all over the city and in numerous Sukhad shops adjacent to Fire Temples. The ankra ensures that the flame is centred in the glass and that the last drop of oil is used.

The Divo vessel or glass should be filled only with the medium used – NEVER MIXED WITH WATER. Many Parsis feel that not adding water will result in the glass cracking. This is incorrect. The glass will crack only if the flame is not in the centre of the glass, or the base of the glass is so narrow as to cause the glass to heat and crack up. It is therefore necessary to use a glass which has roughly the same diameter at the bottom as at the top, or use a glass with a wide enough bottom. Even a small wide bowl can be used for the purpose. There is a great SPIRITUAL SIN in mixing oil and water in a Divo glass. As the oil level comes to an end, the wick starts pulling up the water at the bottom. This results it the flame spluttering, as the fire and water mix. Mixing fire and water is a cardinal sin in our religion. It is akin to throwing water onto fire. Please do not do commit this sin. This unfortunate practice is also seen at many Agiaries, where large bowls are filled up with water and then a very thin layer of oil, not even half an inch is added on top. Please demand a full oil Divo from the Panthaky, and resist the temptation of lighting a big bowl of water with negligible oil. All Agiaries have full oil Divas available at a slightly higher price. Use those. Also bring to the attention of the Panthaky that mixing oil and water is a bad practice and pressurise him to stop this. If more and more devotees demand full oil Divo, they are bound to give in to the pressure. Using the dialogue: ‘we have been doing this for the last so-many years’ is an incorrect excuse. It is never too late to rectify a mistake, and for sure, this is a very serious mistake.

[to be continued]



  1. KHUSHROO HOMI DUBASH  September 9, 2007

    I fully agree with the article written above where our Almighty lord “AHURA MAZDA”is respected by us in the form of lighting a lamp(Divo).

    AHURA MAZDA has given us all the requirements of our life,and in return if we have to offer him our respects it should be PURE,RIGHTEOUS,and DEVOTIONAL.Lighting a lamp to the almighty should be only of pure ghee,or castor oil.I have never come across a broken glass by lighting a lamp.

    It is a privilage for us Zoarastrians to be born in a religion which is so pious that no other religion can offer.I have seen various and several miracles in my life where I am proud to be a Zoroastrian but when I tried to share my views with others,people laughed it out.
    I have faith on Almighty and a day will come when our religion will flourish once again.

  2. YASMINE KERSI SANJANA  September 17, 2007

    A very informative article.

    Correct me if I am wrong, but we have been given to understand that lighting a divo in a firetemple is wrong, especially near the Kebla, as it is an insult to the Atash there. It has been explained to us that in olden days, because there were no lights, the practice of lighting divas in a firetemple was practised to enable the people to read from the prayer books. Now it has become a money making business and like you say, they sell divas with more of water and only a thin layer of oil.

    We do light divas when we go to the firetemple but, at the well or outside of the kebla room.

    I would appreciate your feedback on this issue.

    Thank you

  3. Dr. Cyrus B. Toorkey  November 28, 2010

    The lighting of the ‘diva’ is often a significant step taken before one starts praying in one’s home. Though the comments in this series of articles are very useful, in my opinion what matter most is the reverence with which one lights the ‘diva’ and the Faith one has in Ahura Mazda who after all created the greatest fire in our planetary system (the sun) but also the millions of suns in the universe!
    My contention is one should do the best one can in lighting the diva and not feel guilty whether one did it perfectly or not. It is your Faith in Ahura Mazda that counts and not whether you followed the correct protocol in lighting the diva. Ervad Hatiram’s guidance on how to light the diva is very useful and one can follow it if feasible. Good Luck. God Bless.

  4. rohinton  June 9, 2011

    Dear Marazban any ideas on Aarey Ghee? . Can one use that for a divo ?.I doubt if we get Anik ghee or britania ghee near my side ?


  5. Ervad Marzban J. Hathiram  June 9, 2011

    Only use cow’s ghee. aarey and Anik are made from Buffalo milk and not suitable. Look for a local brand. Gowardhan is widely available.

  6. Dilnaz  June 19, 2012

    Thanks for the above information. Just want to ask if the Divo glass breaks or cracks after one is done with his/her prayers due to whatever reason, is that a sign of bad omen or is it regarded as Divo nai falyo. Any answer on this topic will be greatly appriciated.

  7. Yezdi Driver  August 29, 2016

    Thanks for giving so lovely way explanation for divo, I am doing same in my house but now surely i will try to daily in Fire Temples also. But need some help to right way, But my question is different, Will you able to help me