Why is gold important at Diwali?

Sep 14, 2021

The popular five-day festival of Diwali (or Deepavali) celebrates the victory of light over darkness, good over evil, knowledge over ignorance, and hope over despair.

Known as the festival of lights, it is marked by millions of people in India as well as Hindu and other communities all over the world with candles, fireworks and gifts of gold.

In Australia, more and more people have been embracing Diwali, according to multicultural broadcaster SBS. The trend only seems likely to continue. As of 2019, Indians were the nation’s third-largest migrant group – numbers leaping dramatically from 592,000 in 2018 to 660,000.

The impact has not gone unnoticed. At The Perth Mint we’ve seen significant numbers of Indian visitors in recent years keen to buy gold during the run up to Diwali. Thanks to the fact that people of Indian heritage are well represented among Mint staff, we’re in a good position to understand their needs.

For example, the Mint has issued several Diwali-themed precious metal coins and medallions – but not before consulting staff on suitable design themes. Our portrayals of both Lakshmi and Ganesha were both influenced in this way.

Staff have even been involved in promoting the releases, with one volunteering to wear a colourful sari and traditional jewellery for the publicity photographs.

A long cultural association with gold

The importance of gold at Diwali cannot be underestimated. India, one of the world’s top two gold-consuming nations, develops an insatiable appetite for the shiny yellow metal at this time of year. According to estimates, Diwali accounts for approximately one-fifth of its annual gold purchases — more than any other time of the year.

This demand reflects the nation’s long cultural association with gold, which has been part of its worship, culture and mythology for thousands of years.

According to one legend, ancient law-giver Manu decreed that gold ornaments should be worn for important ceremonies and occasions. During India’s famous wedding season, brides love to take gold jewellery to extravagant levels, many wearing spectacular hair accessories, nose rings, earrings, necklaces and amulets.

Another ancient story recounts a prophecy that the king’s son would be killed by a snake on Dhanteras, the first day of Diwali. The prince’s wife laid gold ornaments, coins and many lamps at the entrance to his chamber to distract the venomous creature and save his life. Buying gold on this day is said to ensure good luck.

Hand in hand with the ancient belief that it brings happiness and good fortune, gold is an important symbol of wealth and status. Moreover, it’s also considered a safe investment and practical savings vehicle, particularly in rural areas where demand invariably spikes whenever monsoonal rains boost farm income.

As Australia’s most trusted supplier of gold bars, coins, jewellery and precious metal investment services, The Perth Mint is again looking forward to helping clients this Diwali.