The Deem office in Bangalore recently held its annual Diwali celebration to commemorate the Hindu Festival of Lights, and I had the good fortune to be present during my recent visit. The office was richly decorated for the event with attendees in ceremonial dress to honor the rich culture and traditions of the season. Men donned Khurtas or Dhotis and women donned Sarees or Ghagras. Dmitri Korablev, Garner Swann, and Jaya Dhameja of the Deem US team were also on hand to share in the celebration.
Anju Geethabai, from the Deem Bangalore team, opened the celebration with a description of the meaning of Diwali.
“Deepawali or Diwali means an arrangement or row of lights. It is celebrated when the night is the darkest in the Hindu calendar month of Karthika, so that the significance of light can be appreciated the most. Spiritually, the festival signifies the victory of light over darkness; knowledge over ignorance; good over evil; hope over despair.
There are many legends about the origin of the festival, the most noted one being the Return of Ram to Ayodhya. The King of Ayodhya sent Ram, his wife Sita and his brother Lakshman into exile in the forest. There the King of demons, Ravana, kidnapped Sita. A war followed where Ram emerged victorious and rescued Sita. He then returned to Ayodhya after 14 years. People celebrated this homecoming by lighting up all houses in the kingdom with diyas or lamps. We still celebrate this occasion today.”
After a ceremonious lighting of the Diwali Diya – the lamp – attendees were divided into four teams for a spirited round of Diwali games. These challenges included which team could string the longest mango leaf garland with the most leaves, a spirited game of cat and mouse to identify colleagues from a list of hints, and finally a sales pitch-off where a representative from each team extolled the merits of a cracker (firework in US dialect) to a panel of judges.
The celebration continued with a traditional Dandiya Raas (stick dance) where an even number of participants join two circles holding two sticks and whirl to the rhythm of the dance while striking the two sticks together.
The afternoon concluded with an assortment of traditional Diwali sweets and warm greetings for all.