It's a core principle at NTT DATA that all our employees should have the opportunity to thrive at work regardless of their age, ethnicity, gender, gender identity and expression, religion or sexual orientation, or disability.
Diversity & Inclusion at NTT DATA is not a one-off initiative, but an underlying principle that helps drive our business. Central to this is our Culture & Ethnicity Network (CEN), a programme that celebrates cultural diversity and encourages employees across the whole organisation to learn about their colleagues’ cultural heritage.
CEN Presents “Lighting the way for Diwali”
Diwali is the Indian festival of lights, and celebrated by millions of Hindus, Sikhs, and Jains across the world. The festival marks the triumph of light over darkness and good over evil and is a time for friends and family to come together to celebrate and spend time with one another.
This year the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted traditional Diwali celebrations, and with festivities moved online, we at NTT DATA wanted to show our support to our colleagues and give them an opportunity to celebrate together.
To achieve this goal CEN held a virtual Diwali celebration. It began with participants sharing their highlights of the year and expressing gratitude for their fortune. I then gave a presentation about the origins of Diwali, highlighting the importance of the story of Sita and Rama. In the famous tale, Rama saves Sita from the evil claws of the demon Ravana. Oil lamps (diya) were lit by the people of Ayodhya to guide the pair back to the kingdom, where they became King and Queen. Ever since, diya have been lit on Diwali to commemorate this moment.
Diwali takes places across five days: Dhanteras, Kali Chaudas, Lakshmi Puja (Diwali), Govardhan Puja and Bhai Dooj, and each has different significance. For example, the first day is considered an auspicious day to purchase new items – particularly silver and gold. On the fourth day, a variety of vegetarian food is offered to the God Krishna, as a symbol of gratitude.
As a festival that is a celebrated so widely and by a number of religions and cultures, Diwali has different meanings to different people. I handed over to colleagues from my NTT DATA family, to explain what Diwali means to them and how they celebrate.
Manish spoke of his fond memories growing up in India, and how much he would look forward to Diwali as a child. He regaled us with tails of happiness and delicious food – even tempting us with his favourite sweet, Gulab Jamun.
Praneeth, who is from Sri Lanka, highlighted that Sri Lankans celebrate Diwali slightly differently. He told us of his traditional family meals – prawn biriyani and mutton curry, which is considered a delicacy in Sri Lanka.
I then explained that on the first day of Diwali I go to the local temple to offer prayers, and then celebrate over food with my family in the evening.
Kiran, whose family is from East Africa, shared that for her, the festival is all about spending time with family. Last year was more special than most, they had three weddings in the family and so had even more to look back on and celebrate.
Even though each of the speakers were from different regions, it’s clear that Diwali is a time of celebration for all, a time to be grateful and an opportunity to be with loved ones.
Not only is Diwali a time to celebrate love and gratitude, it is also a time to celebrate religious and cultural diversity. Across these 5 days, millions of people come together, regardless of location or background. This unification is a magical moment, and one of particular significance in this covid-world.
With families and friends unable to celebrate together this year, it is more important than even to show your gratitude and to think of all those people across the globe, celebrating (in a socially distanced fashion) with you.