Diwali is the Festival of Lights, celebrated in India and across the world by Hindus, Sikhs, Jains and Buddhists. Diwali symbolises the spiritual victory of light over darkness, good over evil and knowledge over ignorance. It is traditionally a time of coming together to celebrate happy moments with family and friends.
In 2015, during the first full year of the SIS Project, a group of SIS staff members suggested that SIS hold a team celebration to honor that tradition. The lunchtime gathering included festive decorations, delicious Indian food, mehendi (henna hand painting), beautiful Indian clothing (saris for the women, kurtas for the men) music and dancing. It was such a success that SIS has held a Diwali celebration each year since.
This year, the organizers, Keerthy Puttagunta and Janhavi Deshpande, wanted to extend the invitation to the rest of IST. When SIS approached the other IST team directors to see if their staff might be interested in attending, Larry Conrad thought it sounded like a great idea and offered to sponsor the gathering for the whole IST team.
With this great news, the whole Diwali organizing team got to work and on Wednesday, Oct. 10, the south side of the 4th floor at 2850 Telegraph was transformed.
Over 75 people RSVP’d and we managed to all fit comfortably into the space. The welcome signs began in the 4th floor elevator lobby, with a festive altar. The food was delicious, those who wanted to dressed in saris and kurtas, and everyone enjoyed an Indian feast. Even if you didn’t want to have your hands painted, it was fun to watch Janhavi and Kamyar Marashi, artists at work, as people stopped by for mehendi. After lunch - the dancing began! And this year, it was not only the SIS team who performed - the EDW team joined in with several dances as well! Perhaps next year a dance off?
Many thanks to the organizing team Keerthy Puttagunta, Janhavi Deshpande, Deepthika Nallaparaju, Srilatha Chennamaneni plus everyone who came early to set up and/or stayed after to clean up, also to Margarita Zeglin and Jane Valentine who helped wrangle the logistics of space and food. And of course, a big “thank you” to Larry (who was also on the dance floor in kurta - see photos). We hope to continue this joyful and fun tradition with all of IST next year - hope you can be there!