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Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Celebrating Diwali at the Office

I usually take my team out to lunch each month and usually around a holiday. This week is an Indian holiday known as Diwali, the "festival of lights." Naturally, this meant our November holiday lunch should be scheduled as part of Diwali, the event which marks the end of the harvest season in India.

In India, farmers will give thanks for the bounty of the year gone by and pray for a good harvest for the year to come.  Being in California, we gave a toast to our bounteous year and being able to slip out of the office to partake of the bounty someone else prepared.  It was good enough for us.

Diwali typically involves the lighting of small clay lamps filled with oil to signify the triumph of good over evil. These lamps are kept on during the night and one's house is cleaned, both done in order to make the goddess Lakshmi feel welcome. Firecrackers are burst because it is believed that it drives away evil spirits. During Diwali, all the celebrants wear new clothes and share sweets and snacks with family members and friends. For us, we were content to break bread and dip it in olive oil while we shared personal tales that had nothing whatsoever to do with work.  It was great!

Today was the third day of the Diwali festival, which is supposed to be a mark for the goddess of wealth.  For some reason, when my team heard this, they suddenly had that look in their eyes that I was going to bring out a surprise of wealth; perhaps a bonus? or what about becoming real employees rather than contractors??

Nope.  None of that.  The only thing I had up my sleeve was the wealth of working with people we respect and enjoy. Being able to work with people who can get along well is an intangible type of wealth, but still of unusual value.  

Our Diwali celebration, although a bit unconventional, was still pretty satisfying.  So thank you to my Indian colleagues for sharing a bit of your heritage and culture with us Californians. It was a memorable holiday celebration.