This weekend is Diwali, the Festival of Lights celebrated by various Indian communities, varying across Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, and Buddhists. To recognise and celebrate this occasion, we’ve asked some of our Within Network, which supports our cultural diversity and inclusion work, to share the meaning of Diwali, as well as how they celebrate.
Arjun O’Sullivan, Supervisor at Rapport Guest Services
“Diwali is the Indian Festival of Lights, a celebration that lasts around 2-5 days which falls between mid-October and November, which is the equivalent to month of Kartik in the Hindu calendar.
For Hindus, the story of Diwali is an intriguing one, it is the triumph of good over evil, originating from the Hindu epic ‘Ramayana’. I have very fond memories of my mother telling me the story numerous times before bedtime and I remember having a couple of story books on Diwali which I read thousands of times.
I grew up in a unique environment, with my mum being Malaysian Indian, my dad Irish, coupled with an upbringing abroad in Dubai. For us Diwali always felt like a time that everyone would come together, even regardless of backgrounds.
Whilst these memories can’t be replicated on this occasion, we’re still finding ways to connect and celebrate – I can’t be with my parents this year, but my partner and I look forward to calling loved ones and enjoying delicious food (even though it isn’t quite up to the home-cooked standard!)”
Harjeet Moore, Head of People at ESS Offshore & Remote Support Services
“Diwali has always been a special time of year for us, as it’s a time that the family comes together to celebrate with my parents cooking, a visit to the temple and lots of fireworks! Since having my son who is mixed race it is important to me that he understands our heritage and why celebrations like this are so important.
There was a period of time when we stopped celebrating Diwali due to my grandfather passing away during this time but now, we also use this time to reminisce.
This year will be very different due to the restrictions, but I will still ensure I give my son a memorable Diwali, where I remind him why we as Sikhs celebrate. For Sikhs, Diwali is particularly important to us as it celebrates the release from prison of the sixth guru, Guru Hargobind, and 52 other princes with him, in 1619. Sikhs celebrate Bandi Shor Divas (often translated as Prisoner Release Day) on Diwali.”
Rak Kalidas, Head of Diversity & Inclusion at Compass Group UK&I
“There is something magical about a yearly occasion that summons fond childhood memories. Diwali has always been a really important time of year for me and my family. The glistening of divas, the twinkling of fairy lights. The aroma of food, sweet and savoury and the joy and happiness of being surrounded by my family on this beautiful occasion. This is a perfect summary of Diwali celebrations in my home.
This year, whilst things are different, our celebrations will be spent at home with my family – a virtual get together (or two) with lots of delicious food and gifts for us all. It’s important to for me to share these moments with my family, to teach my boys the meaning of Diwali and the rich diversity it brings”