Diwali at So Energy

The Diversity and Inclusion Team

Our workforce is a diverse one, and so we established a Diversity and Inclusion (D+I) team to celebrate and support the mixture of backgrounds that make So Energy such a great place to work. As part of the team’s mission for inclusivity, we recognise that it’s important to have your faith understood and recognised at work, and so we asked our fellow So Energists what they did for Diwali.

If you're unfamiliar, Diwali is also known as the festival of lights, and is one of the most popular Hindu festivals. It’s celebrated annually between mid- October and mid- November. This year it fell on 14th November.

As Diwali symbolises good over evil our D+I team are encouraging everyone in the company to do a good deed, and will be sharing these in the very near future. Those who observe Diwali have also put together this post below to give more insight into how some of our team celebrate Diwali with photos and accounts of their day.

Ricky Patel – Operations Team Leader

Now, I’m not the biggest religious believer but I do celebrate Diwali yearly as its meanings still holds true in modern society, one being the battle of good vs evil.

Diwali 2020 was a big change for my household and wider family and one I believe we have adjusted to well, same as we all have done in the year 2020.

A normal Diwali for my household is full of bright colours, people and light. Normally one household in the family hold a gathering for all of us 45 Patels to get together and celebrate with each other. Plenty of food cooked by the mothers (all unhealthy, of course), plenty of drink (although not recommended for this celebration, we have adjusted to modern times), plenty of laughs and plenty of fireworks.

It gives us all an opportunity to see each other, which over the year becomes difficult due to our varied locations, gives an opportunity to reflect on the year we’ve had and wish each other a prosperous new year ahead.

This festival also brings out my once a year visit to our temple and although the 5:30am arrival for the first prayers are a choir without a morning coffee, the yearly smile I see on my mum’s face that I actually keep to this tradition at 30 years old makes it all worth it.

As from the above you can see usually there is a vast amount of human interaction over this festival which we were not able to do this year, however, below shows what we were able to do.

My Mum still cooked a vast amount of food, even though I kept reminding her it was just the two of us and the whole of India were not visiting this year (examples of homemade Indian sweets in picture below).

I kept up my tradition of making the Diwali prayers (at a reasonable hour this time) with the small temple we have at home.

I decided to take up baking with my cousins over a video call in our version of a “Desi” bake off. There were plenty of zoom calls over the weekend allowing the family to interact virtually, which really got me to appreciate the modern times we are in that we were still able to see each other in one form or another.

I was also able to see those family members who live locally via house windows and being socially distanced in front driveways.

I also snuck in a drink or six, but it’s not the same without your loved ones around you.

So although all the flair, the colour and celebrations were not at their peak this Diwali, I still got to appreciate the things I enjoy the most about religious festivals and Hindu festivals as a whole which is the togetherness of my family and friends.

Harshil Kerai – Metering Operations Specialist

This year we had to celebrate Diwali from home, but below is an insight to the annual celebrations we do, since our forefathers moved from India to the UK over 40 years ago.

Once the decorations are hung up and the hall is looking vibrant, and the operations of the day are set, the first shift starts at 2am on the actual New Year’s Day. Volunteers turn up in their droves to start prepping the lunch to feed 10,000 visitors later that day.

When 5am rolls round, we enter the temple hall to place the foods on display to feed our Lord. When the Lord blesses our food, as it sits in front of the idols throughout the day, that food is sacred and is called ‘Prasad’. We carefully place approximately 300 succulent dishes on each of the 3 stages to create a display which is worthy of not needing an Instagram filter on it.

6:30am arrives and we welcome our idols from their slumber, and they are awake to be visited by all their devotees on New Year’s Day. We quickly go home to get dressed into our special clothes we have, whether it is a smart suit or a traditional Indian Kurta for the men, or a dazzling Indian Sari for the ladies. We meet our parents at home, we hug them, touch their feet to show respect, and best of all – receive presents or money from them.

Most people go to visit family and friends, and go back to the Temple, ready to meet a family of brothers and sisters, we call our community. Once, we have met a few faces, we then carry on serving our Temple, the way we love. Some tasks include directing cars for parking, serving food, crowd control, and others.

A family would usually arrive at the Temple in their car, probably having to park around 10 minutes’ walk away due to the sheer volume of people in attendance. They then do their prayers, meet friends and family, listen to guest speakers, have lunch, collect their takeaway snack box and continue with their day, which includes visiting more friends and family.

Our tasks usually start at 8am and go on until 3pm when the last of the public have visited the Temple. We help our kitchen team clean up until 4pm, where we have to separate the immense stack of coins and notes received in donations so that they can be bagged up and sent to the bank, which allows the Temple to be sustainable for future generations.

5pm comes around, and of course someone must eat the Prasad which was on display, so the volunteers take a small bag home, almost as a thank you for the help they had given that day, as we continue to bring it back to normality.
Once this is all complete, we visit other Temples in the area, to offer our prayers and meet more friends and family, and thus ends the typical Diwali day for me.

Heraj Patel– Operations Team Leader

Although we were unable to visit the Neasden Temple and enjoy their amazing fireworks display this year, we tried to make the most of the lockdown by organising family activities instead!