This year, the Hindu chapter of Google's Inter Belief Network (IBN) employee resource group is honoring Hindu Heritage Month and the many important festivals happening this month, including Navaratri (Sept. 26 - Oct. 5), Dussehra (Oct. 5) and Diwali (Oct. 24).
To help bring more awareness to key moments like Diwali, Google Registry partnered with CoHNA, a coalition representing the Hindu community of North America, earlier this year to launch Diwali.day — a secure domain to learn more about the history and traditions surrounding Diwali.
I sat down with fellow members of the IBN Hindu chapter to learn a bit more about their traditions, and how they are celebrating the festive season.
A five-step Golu display at Divya’s house
Software Engineer, Google Research & AI
Hindu cultures across the world have different ways of celebrating each festival. In my community, we keep Golu for Navaratri, which is the practice of displaying festive dolls. I have very fond memories of going around to friends’ and family members’ houses to admire Golu displays, sing devotional songs, eat prasadam (food offered to the gods) and enjoy the variety of festive food.
My mother always said, “Good intentions lead to good outcomes.” Most Hindu festivals signify the victory of good over evil, and the same is true of Navaratri. The true fight lies within, as our inner light struggles to emanate and shine through a haze of internal demons like anger, desire, envy, ego, pride, greed and fear. The goal is to conquer these demons and allow for our divine energy to emerge victorious and make the world a happier and better place.
Goddess Lakshmi made by Ruchi’s family at home during Diwali
Software Engineer, Privacy Sandbox
Deepavali (Diwali) is celebrated for five days at our home. Each day has a specific significance, but the essence is for us to discover our true spiritual identity.
On the first day of Dhanteras, we buy new utensils which signify prosperity. The second day of Naraka Chaturdashi starts with an early-morning bath and special prayers. The next day is the big Deepavali day. We prepare sweets at home, make rangoli (known as aipan in our home). Then make a statue of Goddess Lakshmi using sugarcane and beautiful clothing and jewelry. In the night, we worship Goddess Lakshmi and light diyas (lamps) all around the house, eating festive food, enjoying fireworks and visiting our friends and family. When I was a child, we would make our own little temple in a corner of the house and decorate it. The next day is Govardhan puja, when we visit every house in the neighborhood and exchange sweets. Finally on the last day, we celebrate Bhai dooj with our brothers and sisters.
Diwali decorations in Jigish’s home include oil lamps and flowers in front of lord Ganesh and lord Krishna
Product and Failure Analysis Engineer, Google Cloud
As a child, Diwali (or Deepavali) was the most exciting time of year, filled with food, fireworks and most importantly boni, the Gujarati word for money given to children when they seek blessings from elders by touching their feet. Those were the things that brought joy, light and positivity all around us. Diwali is traditionally celebrated for five consecutive days, and I would eagerly wait for new sweets and new kinds of fireworks for each of those five days.
As an adult, I strive to give back to those who are less fortunate. In the words of late guru Shri Pramukh Swami Maharaj, a revered Hindu saint, “In the joy of others lies our own.” This is the key to peace and happiness for humanity. My family and I have been practicing this for a number of years, especially around Diwali. We hope to inspire the next generation and encourage them to experience the same joy and excitement around Diwali that we always have.