Celebrating Diwali in the workplace

Wednesday 11th September 2015 sees the start of the five-day Diwali festival of the Sikh, Hindu and Jain religions.

Diwali is commonly known as the 'festival of lights' and honours Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth. Those celebrating this festival celebrate the victory of good over evil, light over darkness and knowledge over ignorance.

Celebrations actually vary considerably but traditionally lamps are light to help Lakshmi find her way into peoples homes. Fireworks are set, people spring clean their homes, buy new clothes and gifts and celebrate with festive meals.

What does the festival mean for you as employers though?

Well the festival and celebrations are unlikely to result in requests for flexibility, but should they come through it may be wise to treat these kindly to foster good relations, however there is no legal right to allow time off.

However, why not engage with the festival and foster great relations between varying religions in the workplace and educate and develop respect for other religions festivals?

Celebrating Diwali in the workplace

Post some information about Diwali on your noticeboards or staff intranet to educate your staff what Diwali is about? Encourage staff to talk to those who will be celebrating, ask questions and show a genuine interest. Many people shy away from asking questions about religion for fear of being seen to be ignorant but in my experience, people of faith enjoying talking about their religion and associated customs. You may find a member of staff happy to hold a Q&A or share more formally what Diwali means to them.

You could really get in the spirit and theme your office for the Diwali celebrations by covering your cafe or breakout room tables with traditional Indian tablecloths. Share dishes of gold and silver chocolate coins; which should be easy to find in the run up to Christmas. Encourage people to bring in traditional Indian food and have a 'fuddle' during one of the days of the festival.

There will be lots of local celebrations in the Hindhu and Sikh communities. Why not find your nearest one and have a workplace night out and join your colleagues in their traditional celebrations and have fun together, learning more about their life and what's important to them and having a jolly good time in the process.

If you're already taking part and celebrating Diwali at your workplace please tell us what you're doing, or if you're inspired by our post, let us know what you do.

Have a great Diwali.

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