ALLEN PARK, Mich. - Multiple cultures and traditions are part of the fabric of Ford Export and Growth (E&G). Which may be why a conversation centered on Diwali led to a yearly celebration at E&G’s Allen Park office.
Diwali – the Festival of Lights – involves the lighting of small clay lamps to signify the triumph of good over evil, says Neela Venkataraman, IT project manager. “The lamps are lit through the night, and one’s house is cleaned in order to make the goddess of wealth, prosperity and good luck welcome.”
She said the name “Diwali” is a contraction of “Deepavali,” which translates into “row of lamps.” While Diwali is celebrated on a single day (this year, Nov. 13), the festival spans five days, each of which has its own significance, as per the Hindu religion.
During Diwali, celebrants share sweets and snacks with family and friends, a tradition upheld during the annual Diwali potluck celebration in the E&G home office. Participants brought in foods that might be served during a traditional Diwali celebration, such as Tandoori chicken, vegetable kurma (curry), paneer tikka (cheese) and gulab jamun (a dessert). But in keeping with the diverse nature of E&G, employees were also invited to bring in the international dish of their choice to share.
One of the organizers, Robert Bromley, IT project manager, said the potluck grew out of a discussion about the holiday and how many people celebrated it with friends and family. “Because much of the holiday involves cooking and eating, we collectively decided to have a potluck. Our celebration allows everyone here to experience some of the traditions and foods that are important to others, but it’s also a great team-building event that we all look forward to.”
E&G provides sales, marketing, logistics and additional services to several countries where Diwali is an official holiday, including Trinidad and Tobago, Mauritius, Guyana, Suriname, Malaysia and Singapore.