ISSN (O) : 2584-1378


AUTHOR’S NAME : Jaishree Sharma
UNIVERSITY- Rajasthan University



Diwali, also known as the Festival of Lights, is one of the most widely celebrated and cherished festivals in India and among the Indian diaspora. This cultural extravaganza is not only a time for joyous celebrations but also an occasion that holds deep cultural and religious significance. In recent years, there has been a growing concern about the need to protect the traditional cultural expressions associated with Diwali through intellectual property rights. This article explores the intersection of Diwali and intellectual property, discussing the importance of safeguarding cultural heritage and the challenges posed by commercialization and cultural appropriation.


Diwali, observed by millions of people worldwide, is a Hindu festival that symbolizes the victory of light over darkness, good over evil, and knowledge over ignorance. The festival spans five days of festivities, including the lighting of lamps, exchange of gifts, family gatherings, and elaborate feasts. The rich cultural traditions associated with Diwali include intricate Rangoli designs, traditional clothing like sarees and dhotis, and the performance of religious rituals. These elements contribute to the unique and diverse tapestry of Diwali celebrations.


With the globalization of culture and the increasing commercialization of festivals, there has been a surge in the use of Diwali-related symbols and practices for commercial purposes. From decorative items to clothing and advertisements, the market is flooded with products that incorporate elements of Diwali. While this may seem harmless at first, the commodification of cultural symbols raises concerns about the dilution of cultural heritage and the exploitation of sacred traditions for profit. Cultural appropriation, where elements of one culture are adopted by another without proper understanding or respect, is a particular challenge. The appropriation of Diwali symbols and practices by non-Hindu communities or corporations for profit can lead to the distortion of their cultural significance, reinforcing stereotypes, and eroding the authenticity of the festival.


To address these challenges, there is a growing call for the protection of traditional cultural expressions associated with Diwali through intellectual property rights. Intellectual property rights, including copyrights, trademarks, and geographical indications, can play a crucial role in preserving and promoting cultural heritage. Diwali, the festival of lights, not only illuminates homes across India but also symbolizes the cultural richness deeply embedded in the nation’s heritage. As we celebrate this joyous occasion, it is imperative to explore the intersection of Diwali and Intellectual Property Rights (IPR), particularly concerning the safeguarding of traditional cultural expressions under Indian law. India, with its diverse cultural tapestry, has recognized the need to preserve and protect traditional knowledge, folklore, and cultural expressions. The concept of Geographical Indications (GIs) under the Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act, 1999, serves as a crucial legal framework. GIs protect products associated with a specific geographical origin, safeguarding traditional methods and ensuring their uniqueness. In the context of Diwali, items like ‘Banaras Diyas’ or ‘Varanasi Silk’ could potentially benefit from GI protection, acknowledging the distinct cultural significance attached to these products. The Copyright Act of 1957 plays a pivotal role in safeguarding various elements of Diwali’s cultural expressions. While copyright primarily protects literary and artistic works, traditional expressions like Rangoli patterns, Kolams, or folk performances during Diwali can be recognized and safeguarded. Additionally, the Performers’ Protection Act extends protection to those who contribute to the cultural tapestry through performances during the festival. “The Traditional Knowledge Digital Library (TKDL)” established by the Indian government addresses the challenge of protecting traditional knowledge associated with Diwali. TKDL documents traditional medicinal knowledge, plant varieties, and cultural expressions, preventing their misappropriation. This database acts as a valuable resource in preserving the intellectual property rights of traditional practitioners and communities. However, despite these legal provisions, challenges persist. The intangible nature of many Diwali traditions makes it challenging to clearly delineate and protect them under existing intellectual property frameworks. Furthermore, issues of documentation, awareness, and the dynamic evolution of cultural expressions pose additional hurdles.

Efforts are underway to address these challenges. “The National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT)” has initiated projects to document and promote traditional crafts associated with festivals, providing artisans with a platform to showcase their skills while ensuring recognition and protection. Collaborative initiatives between government bodies, legal experts, and cultural communities are essential to fostering a comprehensive understanding of how intellectual property rights can effectively safeguard Diwali’s traditional expressions.


Traditional art forms, such as Rangoli designs, traditional music, and dance performances, are integral to Diwali celebrations. Copyright protection can be extended to these artistic expressions, ensuring that the communities that have preserved and passed down these traditions for generations are recognized and respected. This protection would also grant them the right to control the use of these expressions, preventing unauthorized commercialization.


The use of trademarks can help distinguish authentic Diwali products from commercial imitations. Creating a certification mark or collective trademark for products genuinely associated with Diwali can assure consumers of the cultural authenticity and quality of the goods. This not only safeguards the interests of the producers but also enhances the value of traditional Diwali products in the market.


Diwali is celebrated in various ways across different regions of India, each with its unique customs and traditions. Geographical indications can be used to protect these regional variations, ensuring that the cultural significance of Diwali is preserved and respected. This would prevent the unauthorized use of regional Diwali symbols and practices by entities outside the specific geographic areas.


While the idea of protecting Diwali through intellectual property rights is appealing, there are challenges and considerations that need to be addressed. Striking a balance between preserving cultural heritage and fostering cultural exchange is crucial. Excessive intellectual property restrictions might hinder the organic evolution and adaptation of cultural expressions. Here are some key considerations:


Balancing the preservation of cultural commons with commercial interests is challenging. Striking a balance that allows for the protection of traditional expressions while still allowing for cultural exchange is essential. It’s important not to stifle creativity or limit the evolution of cultural practices.


The involvement of the communities that practice and preserve Diwali traditions is paramount. Intellectual property frameworks should be developed in consultation with these communities to ensure that their perspectives, values, and concerns are considered. This collaborative approach helps in creating a system that is culturally sensitive and respectful.


Defining the boundaries of what can and cannot be protected under intellectual property rights is a delicate task. Some aspects of Diwali, such as religious rituals and traditional attire, may be deeply rooted in cultural practices and may not be suitable for strict intellectual property protection. Finding a nuanced approach that respects the sacred while addressing commercial concerns is crucial.


Diwali is not only celebrated in India but has a global presence due to the Indian diaspora. International cooperation is essential to ensure consistent protection across borders. Establishing international agreements and frameworks that recognize and protect traditional cultural expressions can prevent the exploitation of Diwali symbols in different cultural contexts.


Raising awareness about the cultural significance of Diwali and the importance of respecting intellectual property rights is crucial. Educational initiatives can help consumers make informed choices, support authentic Diwali products, and discourage the purchase of culturally insensitive or appropriate items.


As Diwali continues to be a significant cultural event celebrated by millions, the need to protect its traditional expressions becomes increasingly important. Intellectual property rights can play a pivotal role in safeguarding these expressions from commercial exploitation and cultural appropriation. However, it is imperative to approach this issue with sensitivity, recognizing the dynamic and evolving nature of culture.A balanced and inclusive approach that involves the communities respects the cultural commons, and addresses the challenges of commercialization is essential. Through thoughtful implementation of intellectual property rights, we can ensure that Diwali remains a vibrant and authentic celebration, fostering cultural exchange while preserving its rich heritage for future generations.

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