Celebration of remembrance: Jashn-e-Chiragan



We Indians love to celebrate Diwali. The aroma of delicious sweets and rangoli lights up our faces, and it is that one day when we forget all of our troubles and make this festival memorable every year. One of the best things about this festival is that it was not confined to just the Hindu communities in India. However, instead, people from almost all religions celebrate Diwali. For instance, in the Jain community, Diwali is seen as the day of the spiritual awakening of Lord Mahavira. In Sikhism, the day embarks on the honor when Guru Hargobind Ji, the Sixth Sikh Guru, was freed from imprisonment.

The Mughal Royals indulged in different cultures and traditions to maintain tranquillity across the country and participated in various festivals associated with all regional communities. They have addressed Diwali as Jashan-e-Chiraghan, Persian for ‘Festival of Lights’.

A princess and her ladies celebrating Diwali in a palace garden with yogis and yoginis, from the Mughal school of painting, from the V&A’s collection.

Almost 400 years ago, Mughal Emperor Akbar started the celebration of Deepavali in his court. The primary purpose of celebrating this festival of lights is to come closer to the people of his region. He insisted on placing decorated lamps and diyas in front of the Hindu idols; we usually worship that day. His arrangement of big bhoj on Diwali and all Agra used to dazzle up people’s energy by seeing the whole palace. This tradition directly connects to the Rajput wives of Akbar, whopracticed religious freedom.

It soon became part of one of the main festivals to celebrate in the imperial court. Jashan-e-Chiragan was celebrated in Rang Mahal within the Red Fort, making it the main celebration venue for the Royal Household. The preparations would start a month prior to the festival with the arrival of the best patisserie from across the regions like Agra and Bhopal, with desi ghee arranged to prepare the feast.

Fireworks from the fort were one of the scenes to watch during the night. It was used to light the palace with diyas, chandeliers, and lampstands. Rana Safvi, in her book on Shahjahanabad, states that “Mughals also used to ignitefireworks near the walls of the Red Fort and a special light called Akash Diya, literally meaning ‘Light of the Sky’ wasplaced atop a pole 40 yards high, supported by sixteen ropes and fed on several maunds of cottonseed oil to light up the Darbar of Aurangzeb”.

Diyas also played a significant role in lighting up the fort along with the lanes of Chandini Chowk. The oil used for the diyas was bought in large quantities and was kept alight throughout the night.

Jahangir and Shahjahan had less pompous celebrations than Akbar; Aurangzeb was more fond of receiving gifts from Rajput generals like Raja Jaswant Singh of Jodhpur and Jai Singh I of Jaipur. His grandson, Jahander Shah, ruled for almost a year and celebrated his Diwali at Lahore with Lal Kunwar.

Food was an integral part of these celebrations. Mughals celebrated Jashn-e-Chiraghan by eating “kheel,” mostly sold by Muslim Bharbhujans and gram roasters in that era. There is also evidence of celebrating Diwali by Mohammad Shah’s predecessor Farukh Siyar, who ordered Diwali illuminations at the Delhi Gate head built on the road from Agra to Delhi. Both Hindu and Muslim peasants belonging to the twelve villages in what is now Uttar Pradesh used to celebrate Diwali with great enthusiasm along with the Sayyids of Barah,including Mohammad Shah. 

Though very few people are aware of the celebrations of Jashn-e-Chiraghan, it had a vital role in making the history of India delightful. 




1. https://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/down-memory-lane-blast-from-the-past/article6491805.ece

2. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/archive/features/emperors-jashn-e-chiraghan-677282

3. https://www.outlookindia.com/website/story/opinion-diwali-or-jashan-e-chiraghan-during-


4. https://www.news9live.com/knowledge/jashn-e-chiraghan-how-mughal-emperors-celebrated-


5. Shahjahanabad: The Living City of Old Delhi’ by Rana Safvi

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Anjali Kumari

Anjali Kumari is pursuing her masters in English literature from Ambedkar university, Delhi. She writes for independent e-magazines and organizations. Her writing explores recent social issues.

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