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Employee Experience

How to Celebrate Diwali in the Workplace

If your organization enjoys holiday celebrations, Diwali is one you may want to add to your calendar. The celebration of Diwali at work can be a fun way to acknowledge other cultural traditions, which could be a great addition to your DE&I strategy.

Let’s take a closer look at the festival, what is celebrated and how you can bring elements of Diwali into an office environment.

What Does Diwali Symbolize?

Before you begin a celebration or tradition, it’s important to understand what Diwali represents and why it is celebrated.

  • Diwali is not a singular holiday but a major festival that takes place over five days.
  • It started as a celebration for Hindus but over the centuries Sikhs, Buddhists, and Jains have found reasons to celebrate during this time.
  • At the center of the five days is the recognition and celebration of the victory of good over evil (or the light over the dark).
  • The festival marks the end of the harvest season in India. As well as the start of the new year.
  • Lakshmi Puja is performed during Diwali as a way to invite “prosperity, wealth, and goodwill into the home.” Note: Lakshmi is the Hindu goddess of wealth, prosperity and good fortune. During Diwali, people take one evening to clean their homes, open their doors and place lights on their windows to invite her in.

Virtual Diwali Celebration Ideas

Although many employees may be in a remote or hybrid work situation there are still opportunities for the company to engage employees in a celebration of this major festival.

It’s a five-day festival so the easiest way to get people engaged is to encourage them to celebrate each day’s “theme.” Here are a few ideas related to the days/themes:

Day One

  • Celebration Moment —- Items of gold are purchased to help bring good fortune in the coming year. Homes are also cleaned in preparation for the festival.
  • Office Activity – Encourage employees to decorate their offices (home or virtual) with gold-colored items.

Day Two

  • Celebration Moment – Homes are decorated with clay lamps while colored powders and sand are used to make patterns on the ground.
  • Office Activity – Have your marketing and communications teams create virtual backgrounds using colorful patterns and distribute them for use in virtual meetings on this day. It’s an easy way to bring a festive spirit to the start of the week.

Day Three

  • Celebration Moment – The connection of the family plays a huge significance on this day as families gather for prayer and a feast. Fireworks are also lit to drive away evil spirits.

Diwali is a religious festival as well and it is on this day that Lakshmi Puja occurs as celebrants invite the goddess Lakshmi into their homes.

  • Office Activity – This is a great day to encourage people to take time outside of meetings to be together. Team meals can be a way to do this. You might host a potluck in the break room or if everyone is virtual, set up a time to “eat together” over Zoom or Teams. You could also allow employees to leave an hour early to prepare a meal with their family.

Day Four

  • Celebration Moment – Gifts and well wishes are exchanged on this day which is the start of the new year.
  • Office Activity – Mugs, notepads, pen sets and other small tokens would be ideal gifts to employees this day. Sweet treats are a common go-to gift during the entire festival and this may be the perfect day to send some out to employees.

Day Five

  • Celebration Moment – The celebration of families continues with brothers visiting their married sisters.
  • Office Activity – Diwali is at its’ core the celebration of light over darkness. Perhaps you can take this last day of the festival to have your employees embody this ethos by pledging to bring some light into the world through volunteer efforts.

You could do something off-site as a group or something simple together like make cards for the local children’s hospital to deliver to patients. And this could even be done virtually.

Diwali Games for Big Groups

If you are able to pull a large group together to celebrate, here are some activities you might consider doing to celebrate this major festival.

  • Work with a local pottery studio so that everyone can create their own clay lamps.
  • Decorate the exterior pathways of the office with colorful patterns. Then you can have a contest for “Most Colorful,” “Most Spirited,” “Most Intricate” and more.
  • Repurpose your “Secret Santa” lists so that employees can exchange small Diwali gifts.
  • Invite local community members to perform traditional music at break times or hire food trucks to bring some traditional Diwali foods to your employee celebrations.
  • Set up an area in a common space to honor the festival with information and images celebrating its’ heritage.

Let’s Celebrate Together

Incorporating Diwali celebrations into your office is a great way to promote an inclusive workplace.  (It’s also a fun way to experience other cultures!)

For more free resources and tools that promote DE&I best practices in the workplace, visit Perspectives+. It’s Paycor’s online knowledge library designed to help our partner network drive change, empower colleagues, and foster new leaders.