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Sumati’s Wish

Updated: Oct 18, 2023

Do you know why everyone lights a Diya on Diwali? Do you want to know how a poverty-stricken family gained wealth by just lighting a Diya?

“Sumati’s Wish” by Phani Sarvani tells the story of a poor brahmin family welcoming prosperity in their lives by embracing the Goddess of wealth.


Diwali is a festival in India which is celebrated with great enthusiasm. It has many stories associated with it and I would like to share a folk story which is popular in the southern part of India.

So, once upon a time, there lived a Brahmin family in a kingdom. The king of that kingdom was righteous and polite. He always wanted his people in the kingdom to be happy and prosperous. In this Brahmin family, the head of the family was blind and was named Satyakama and his wife’s name was Sumati.

Cover Photo by Ravindra Patoju

They were very poor and struggled for basic needs. Since Sumati was devoted to Goddess Laxmi, she prayed to remove poverty from her family. Seeing her sincerity and righteousness, Goddess Lakshmi visited in her dream and told her that she should put oil lamps all over the house on the new moon day of Ashwin.

The king had a habit of disguising himself and travelling in the streets at night to know his people’s opinions. That night he came across the hut where Satyakama lived and saw the hut in total darkness. He inquired about the family and decided to help the poor family with money. However, Sumati rejected the money saying they wouldn’t take charity.

Seeing her modesty and individuality, the king was impressed. He revealed his identity before asking her to wish for whatever she wants. Hearing his kind words, Sumati requested that on the upcoming new moon day of Ashwin, no one in the kingdom including the King’s palace shouldn’t lit a lamp in the evening. It should only be her who should lit an oil lamp in her hut.

Hearing her unusual request, the King was moved and ordered his citizens as Sumati asked. So on a marked day, no one in the kingdom lighted their lamps except for Sumati. That night when Goddess Lakshmi came down observing the one small light in the pitch dark country.

Meanwhile, Sumati requested her husband to stand outside the hut and welcome anyone who would like to visit them. As Sumati waited, one lady asked Satyakama if she could enter their home. As he gladly accepted, she walked in to be welcomed by Sumati.

Applying turmeric to the lady, Sumati requested her to never leave their house. Pleased by her humble request, Goddess Lakshmi assured her to stay at her place and because of this their poverty was gone and they gradually gained wealth. From that day onwards everyone in the kingdom lit oil lamps in their houses to welcome Goddess Laxmi, and ward off Jeshta Devi who is the Goddess of poverty.

Diwali is the festival of lights and prayers are offered to ward off the darkness in the minds of the people and show them the path of knowledge represented by light.

Happy Diwali!



This contribution is edited by Tarun Chintam & photographed by Ravindra Patoju.



This folklore is available as paperback & ebook.

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