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Clay Diya lamp, celebrating Diwali

Embracing the Festival of Lights

Diwali, also known as Deepavali, is the annual Festival of Lights celebrated by millions of people around the world.

It symbolises the spiritual ‘victory of light over darkness, good over evil, and knowledge over ignorance.’

At ACH Group, we value inclusivity and are keen to explore the festivities of Diwali, a meaningful celebration for many on our team and in our community.

Join us on this journey of appreciation and discovery, as we embrace the rich traditions and personal stories that make Diwali significant to our diverse community.

Sumeet, Mamata, Suman and Jay share what Diwali means to them

Sumeet Gupta, Funding & Care Planning Manager

Sumeet's celebration at home, photo of Sumeet's daughter

 

This is my daughter decorating the one at the entrance before we sit down for our prayers! On this day, we invite Goddess Luxmi, the deity of prosperity and wealth to our house with traditional lights (diyas) and rangoli (a mandala with colours). 

Cultural traditions play a crucial role in defining personal identity. Within a diverse workplace, acknowledging different traditions enhances the feeling of inclusiveness and respect for diversity.

Diwali is the main cultural festival for people in India, although it is also celebrated by Hindus in other countries, such as Nepal. This festival signifies that, ultimately, good prevails over evil, and light symbolises this understanding. On this day, people worship for prosperity, peace, and good health.

The event is celebrated with the lighting of lamps, prayers, and exchanging of gifts. There is a lot of diversity in how this festival is celebrated in different parts, but the overarching theme remains the same.

I will be celebrating with my family by lighting lamps around my house, holding prayers within the prayer room with my close family only, elders blessing the youngsters, and then going out for a meal together. I would have exchanged gifts with close friends and relatives by then.

I believe there is now a much greater appreciation for this festival. This event helps us connect with others on a cultural platform. For me, cultural events remain very personal.

Mamata Shrestha, Community Connector Leader at ViTA Residential Care Home

Mamata with her husband, celebrating Deepavali

Here is a photo of me and my husband. My fondest memory of Deepawali/Tihar is spending hours decorating the house with lights and performing Deusi/Bhailo, traditional folk songs sung during the Tihar festival on the nights of Lakshmi Puja.

That was almost a few years ago. After arriving in Australia, these festivals have taken on a different meaning. Now, every year, we celebrate them with our friends here with the same energy and enthusiasm. The photo above is from last year during Laxmi puja.

The dance that we performed at ViTA is the traditional Nepali dance performed on the night of Deusi Bhailo. I am passionate about dancing, and this is one of my self-care activities. This year is very special for us as we have a place to call our home. Starting from Saturday, we will begin cleaning and decorating our home with lights. Friends gathering, food, and fun – that’s what we are looking forward to this Deepawali.

Wishing you and your family a joyous and beautiful festival of lights. Happy Deepawali!

Suman Thakur, Rostering Team Leader Residential Services

Suman celebrating Diwali with her family

Culture holds immense significance in my life (here I am pictured with my family), and for many others as well. Cultural traditions encompass a variety of customs, rituals, music, dance, and values that have been passed down through generations. For Indians, culture is a source of identity, connecting them to their roots. Festivals like Diwali are celebrated with great enthusiasm and bring about a strong sense of community.

During Diwali, people light oil lamps or diyas, decorate their homes with colorful rangoli (artistic mandala patterns), exchange gifts, and participate in prayers and religious ceremonies. It truly brings families together to pray, feast on delicious sweets and savory dishes, and creates a warm, festive atmosphere. Overall, Diwali contributes to positivity and is a time of renewal, celebrating life’s positive aspects.

Along with the vibrant decorations of Rangoli and Diyas, cleaning homes and prayers are important during Diwali. Thorough cleaning is done to welcome Goddess Lakshmi, who is believed to bring prosperity. Families also come together for special prayers and religious ceremonies.

Usually, many of our family friends come together and celebrate at one place. Indian traditional clothing is a must at festivals! Each individual’s unique style of bright colors adds to the vibrant atmosphere. Families also prepare a variety of indulgent special dishes to share with family and friends.

I joined ACH Group in April 2023 and have been amazed by the diversity and inclusivity of the team and how collaboration happens across the organisation.

For me, culture and tradition play a vital role in remembering the teachings of my parents and shaping the way I lead my life. Though it can sometimes become unclear, having strong willpower helps me keep my roots firmly grounded.

Diwali is a celebration of  the victory of light over darkness, good over evil and knowledge over ignorance. As it is a festival celebrated by many around the world, the meanings may differ slightly across the world.

This year, as my parents are not here, I will be celebrating the day with my wife, following our tradition.

If there’s one thing I hope people will appreciate about Diwali, it’s how wonderful and colorful this festival is, and hopefully, more will join in the following year.

With the diverse population in Australia, it would be good to share our knowledge about Diwali, and ask our friends and peers to join us in this celebration.

 

Discovering the charm of Nepal during the Deepavali festivities

The social team at ViTA Residential Care Home recognised a wonderful opportunity to introduce Nepal and Deepavali to residents, staff, and volunteers as part of the social program for all residential care homes.

We were honoured to have Mamata, the ViTA Community Connector Leader, leading this armchair travel social event. What made it particularly special was that Mamata, along with some other ViTA staff members, is from Nepal and together they could provide an authentic experience for everyone.

There were original costumes from Nepal, and as part of the celebration, gulab jamun (a small donut-like dessert covered in rose syrup) was served. The room was decorated with lights, Nepali flags and rangoli.

Following the presentation of information about Nepal and the origin of the festival, Charissa, the ACH Group Event Planner, introduced the main program – an authentic music and dance performance.

The dance that the team performed was the traditional Nepali dance for the night of deusi bhailo. The group is usually composed of a lead chanter/singer and a chorus group and sometimes additional participants such as musicians and dancers.

Watch the recording of a segment of the dance performed by Mamata and Shruti

At ACH Group, we recognise that embracing diversity goes beyond acknowledgment it requires proactivity and action.

We take pride in seeing our teams fostering workplace culture and taking the opportunity to share the vibrant tapestry of cultures within ACH Group.

A Diwali Celebration to Remember

This year marked a significant shift in our approach to celebrating cultural diversity in the workplace. Suman, along with Jay, Sumeet, and Ashwin, took the initiative to propose a united celebration, bringing together members from various teams at our Mile End office, rather than the usual approach of celebrating with their respective teams. With the support of the People & Culture Team, they organised a celebration, inviting staff from all teams who are based at the Mile End office.

On the day of the celebration, the Mile End office was transformed into a vibrant tapestry of colours and traditions. Staff were greeted with beautiful hanging flower garlands and Diwali decorations that set the festive mood. There was a variety of authentic dishes to choose from including jeera rice, vegetable pakora, rogan josh, brinjal, kheer, and more.

Capturing the moment

View our short video from this occasion!

Thank you

None of this would have been possible without the dedication and collaboration of everyone involved. We would also like to extend a huge thank you to Suman, Jay, Sumeet, Ashwin and the entire team to make this celebration a success.

Let’s continue the journey of championing moments like these, that honour our cultural traditions that bring us closer together.

What is one thing everyone can do to acknowledge Diwali?

A simple yet meaningful gesture is to wish Happy Diwali to your friends, colleagues, or acquaintances who celebrate the festival. It’s a small act, but it truly goes a long way in recognising and respecting the cultural and religious significance of the festival for others.

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