Australia is lucky to be made up of many different cultures – each one of them contributing to diversity in our community. These cultures are celebrated in different ways, at different times and for different reasons. Diwali is one of India’s most popular festivals and celebrates the significance of light over darkness, and good over evil.
Medibank Talent Acquisition Adviser Nicola Gala says it’s her favourite festival, sharing how she continues her family traditions.
“For me growing up, Diwali was always a time when the connection to our culture feels a little stronger. It’s a time that makes me even prouder to be Indian because there is so much culture, history, and tradition there.”
Nicola at a Diwali celebration.
The celebration takes place over five days with the third day being Diwali. It is referred to as the ‘Festival of Lights’ and back in India, fireworks are a huge part of the celebrations. This year, Nicola will be filling her home with plenty of candles in order to bring Diwali to life.
There are a few traditions from her childhood that Nicola is extremely fond of and still tries to carry out every year.
“There are many different religious customs that go with Diwali but for my family, it’s more about humanity and togetherness. For us, the spiritual aspect includes stories my grandmother used to tell and the teachings we were given. It’s mostly focussed on interacting with each other and discussing what those stories mean to us. Every family has a different way of celebrating.”
Nicola (front row, far right) with friends and family during Diwali.
Nicola says as a child, it was ingrained in her that Diwali is a time to forgive people, no matter what the issue is.
“You let bygones be bygones and start over. It’s a time to start fresh and understand that whatever happened in the past or what we have done in the past doesn’t define us.”
“It’s a beautiful way of thinking when you’re growing up.”
Diwali, for Nicola, is a time of being with loved ones and enjoying delicious food, consisting of an abundance of traditional Indian treats.
“Food is the central theme with Diwali, there’s always a big spread! Another tradition for my family, as well as many of my friends, is playing cards. There are no winners or losers, but rather it’s about being with each other and having fun. Diwali is a festival that brings out the best in people.”
Delicious Diwali treats.
Being away from her home country during this time, Nicola has learnt to celebrate the best way she can in Australia, saying she definitely feels the strong bond within the Indian-Australian community.
“Of course, I’d love to be in India but that’s not to say that I don’t feel the excitement or carry out my traditions here. It’s the one day I feel extremely close to all Indians, whether that’s with people on the train or bumping into people at work. There is such a strong sense of community,”
“I love my culture and sharing it with it with those around me, no matter their background.”
Colourful rangoli design as part of the celebrations.
Medibank has a solid support for people from all walks of life. This is something that Nicola says she has felt from the minute she joined the organisation.
“Medibank is truly inclusive when it comes to different cultures. I’m encouraged and welcomed to share what is close to my heart. Not once have I hesitated or worried about celebrating Diwali in the workplace. I feel safe at Medibank being myself.”