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Top 15 Symbols of Light With Meanings

Top 15 Symbols of Light With Meanings

Both light and darkness are basic natural phenomena to which metaphorical or symbolic meanings are often attached. Darkness is often seen as mysterious and impenetrable, while the light is associated with creation and goodness.

Light refers to the basic primal conditions of life, such as spiritual enlightenment, sensuality, warmth, and intellectual discovery. 

Let’s consider the top 15 symbols of light below:

1. Diwali

Diwali Festival.
Diwali Festival
Khokarahman, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Diwali literally translates to “rows of lighted lamps.” It is a Hindu festival that is celebrated over a span of five days. The purpose of Diwali is to celebrate good over evil and light superseding darkness. The Diwali festival also marks the Hindu New Year, and it also honors Lakshmi, the Hindu Goddess of Light. 

At times, Diwali also celebrates a successful harvest. It is celebrated in different forms all over India. During this festival, people meet their families and friends, dress up in fancy clothes, and indulge in feasts. People also decorate their homes and lamps and candles. [1]

2. Fanous Ramadan

Fanous Ramadan.
Fanous Ramadan
Image Courtesy: Flickr, CC BY 2.0

Fanous Ramadan is a traditional lantern used to decorate homes and streets during the month of Ramadan. The Fanous Ramadan originated in Egypt and since then has been hung in many countries across the Muslim world. 

The Fanous Ramadan is a common symbol linked to the month of Ramadan. The word ‘Fanous’ is a Greek-originated term that translates to ‘candle.’ It can also mean ‘lantern’ or ‘light.’ The term ‘Fanous’ historically meant light of the world. It was used as a symbol of hope, in the sense of bringing light in the darkness. 

3. Lantern Festival

Sky Lantern.
Sky Lantern
Image by Wphoto from Pixabay

The Chinese lantern festival is a traditional festival celebrated in China. It is celebrated on the full moon. The full moon arrives on the fifteenth day of the first month of the lunisolar Chinese Calendar. This usually falls in late February or early March in the Gregorian calendar. 

The Lantern Festival marks the first day of the Chinese New Year. The Lantern festival goes way back in Chinese history. It was celebrated as early as the Western Han Dynasty in 206 BCE-25CE; hence, it’s a festival of great importance. [2]

4. Hanukkah

Hanuka Menorah.
Hanuka Menorah
39james, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Hanukkah is a Jewish festival that commemorates recovering Jerusalem and the rededication of the second temple. This was at the beginning of the Maccabean Revolt against the Seleucid Empire in the 2nd Century BCE. Hanukkah is celebrated for 8 nights. In the Gregorian calendar, this can be any time between late November to late December.

Hanukkah festivities include lighting candles of a candelabrum with nine branches, singing Hanukkah songs, and eating oil-based foods. Hanukkah often occurs around the same time as Christmas and the holiday season. [3]

5. Tribute in Light, New York

The Tribute in Light.
The Tribute in Light
Anthony Quintano, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Tribute in Light was created in remembrance of the September 11th attacks. It is an art installation that consists of 88 searchlights placed vertically representing the Twin Towers. The Tribute in Light is placed on top of the Battery parking garage, six blocks south of the World Trade Center in New York. 

Initially, the Tribute in Light started as a temporary reference to the 9/11 attacks. But soon, it became an annual event produced by the Municipal Art Society in New York. On clear nights, the Tribute in Light is visible in all of New York and can also be seen from suburban New Jersey and Long Island. [4]

6. Loy Krathong

Loy Krathong at Ping River.
Loy Krathong at Ping River
John Shedrick from Chiang Mai, Thailand, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Loy Krathong is a yearly festival that is celebrated throughout Thailand and neighboring countries. It is a significant festival in western Thai culture. The ‘Loy Krathong’ can be translated to the ritual of floating vessels of lamps. The origins of the Loy Krathong festival can be traced back to China and India. Initially, the Thais used this festival to thank Phra Mae Khongkha, the goddess of water

The Loy Krathong festival takes place on the 12th month of the Thai lunar calendar, in the evening of the full moon. In the Western Calendar, this usually falls in November. The festival usually lasts 3 days. [5]

7. SRBS Bridge, Dubai

The SRBs Bridge in Dubai stands at a 201-meter height and is the largest single-arch span bridge in the world. This bridge is a major engineering feature in the world. 

This bridge is 1.235 km long and 86m wide. It has two-track lines and 6 traffic lanes on each side. [6] The SRBs Bridge connects Bur Dubai to Deira. The total cost of the bridge was 4 billion dirhams.

8. Symphony of Lights, Hong Kong

Symphony of Lights, Hong Kong.
Symphony of Lights, Hong Kong
Image Courtesy: Flickr, (CC BY 2.0)

The symphony of Lights is the world’s biggest permanent light and sound show that takes place in Hong Kong. In 2017, a total of 42 buildings participated in the show. The symphony of lights started in 2004 to attract tourists. 

Since then, this show has symbolized Hong Kong and highlighted in contrasting culture and dynamic energy. The symphony of lights show consists of five major themes that celebrate the spirit, diversity, and energy of Hong Kong. These themes include awakening, energy, heritage, partnership, and celebration. [7][8]

9. Nur

Nur is symbolic of the Islamic faith’s splendor and refers to as the ‘light’ or the ‘glow.’ The word ‘Nur’ appears multiple times in the Quran and represents the enlightenment of the believers. Islamic architecture also emphasizes luminosity in mosques and sacred buildings. 

Builders have used arches, arcades, and ornamental stalactite-like prisms under domes to refract and reflect light. Mirrors and tiles also amplify this very effect. [9]

10. Crescent Moon and Star

Crescent Moon and Star.
Crescent Moon and Star
DonovanCrow, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The crescent moon and star often represent the Islamic faith as well as the month of Ramadan. How the quarter crescent started representing the Islamic faith is quite uncertain. Some say the moon was in crescent form when the prophet of Islam received the very first revelation from God on July 23rd, 610 AD.

 In pre-Islamic times, the crescent moon and star were symbols of authority, nobility, and victory in the Middle East and Aegean regions. Many say the symbol was absorbed into the Islamic faith after the conquest of Byzantium. Practitioners of the new faith reinterpreted this symbol. The Byzantines had initially used the crescent moon and star in 610 AD on Heraclius birth. [10]

11. Rainbow

Cloudy rainbow over a Field.
Cloudy rainbow over a Field
Image by realsmarthome from

The symbolic significance of the rainbow can be interpreted in many ways. The rainbow connotes rebirth and the spring season. It also represents the union of cosmological and human dualism such as masculine-feminine, hot-cold, fire-water, and light-dark. North Africans also refer to the rainbow as the ‘wife of rain.’ The rainbow is a symbol of vitality, abundance, positivity, and light.

12. The Sun

Sun shining brightly.
Sun shining brightly
Image by dimitrisvetsikas1969 from Pixabay

The sun represents life, energy, light, vitality, and clarity. People from different parts of the world and different centuries have appreciated this symbol. The sun represents light and life. Without it, the Earth would be in darkness, and nothing would be able to grow and prosper. The sun provides the energy of life and important nutrients to nurture life. 

If you have the sun’s energy, you have the power to thrive and revitalize. Sunlight also makes us feel good about ourselves. It eliminates melancholy and sadness and fills out life with positivity and hope.

13. The Color White

A white marble surface.
A white marble surface
Image by PRAIRAT_FHUNTA from Pixabay

White is an important color that has represented various notions. White color represented goodness, innocence, purity, and virginity. The Romans wore white togas to mark citizenship. Priestesses in ancient Egypt and Rome wore white as symbols of purity. The tradition of wearing a white wedding dress was also observed in western culture and still is, to this day. 

In the Islamic faith, White-colored garments are also worn by pilgrims while performing the holy pilgrimage to Mecca. There is a saying of the Islamic prophet, “God loves white raiment, and He created paradise white.” [11][12]

14. Chinese Moon

The Chinese moon is linked to light, brightness, and gentleness. It expresses the honest and beautiful yearnings of Chinese people. The mid-Autumn festival or the moon festival is celebrated on the 15th day of the 8th month of the lunar calendar. 

The round shape of the moon also symbolizes family reunions. On this holiday, family members reunite and enjoy the full moon. The full moon is also a token of good luck, abundance, and harmony. [13]

15. The Earth

A view of earth from outer space.
Planet Earth
D2OwikiCC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Earth itself can be seen as a symbol of light. God created the Earth for humanity, so they could find beauty in it and sustenance and comfort. The Earth is a symbol of vitality, nourishment, and light. It should always be taken care of and all living beings present in it and the cycles of life. The mountains, oceans, rivers, rain, clouds, lightning, and other elements should be respected and appreciated. 


  2. “Traditional Chinese Festivals: Lantern Festival”
  3. Moyer, Justin (December 22nd, 2011). “The Christmas effect: How Hanukkah became a big holiday.” The Washington Post.
  4. “Tribute in Light.” 9/11 Memorial. National September 11th Memorial & Museum. Retrieved June 7th, 2018.
  5. Melton, J. Gordon (2011). “Lantern Festival (China).” In Melton, J. Gordon (ed.). Religious Celebrations: An Encyclopedia of Holidays, Festivals, Solemn Observances, and Spiritual Commemorations. ABC-CLIO. pp. 514–515.
  11. “5 special occasions when you should wear white”. December 2nd, 2018.

Header image courtesy: Photo by Tim Sullivan on StockSnap