Look at the festival season in the era of social distancing, and it’s clear that festivals need to be celebrated in new, unique ways.
Consider this year’s Gandhi Jayanti—prayer services took place over Zoom and seminars were held online instead of at universities. From national holidays to seasonal festivals and beyond, it’s clear adjustments will need to be made in light of the pandemic. When festivals are a key part of engaging your employees, it's up to your leadership team to take a unique approach to celebrating with your company.
Here are some tips for celebrating festivals in the era of social distancing:
Play festival-themed online games
For last year’s Dussehra, we set up a short digital game filled with crossword puzzles, a maze, and more so our distributed team could come together in virtual space and celebrate by saving Sita from Ravan and bring her back to Ayodhya.
Not ready to set up a virtual gaming experience? Here are some tips for an eco-friendly Ravana-Dahan and Visarjan Kund your team can perform in the comfort of their own homes.
Celebrate with gifts and contests
The festival of lights, of course, is celebrated mostly in the home. Try hosting a series of company-wide competitions: Who has the best at-home diyas and rangoli? Who can make the best mithai? Who has the most embarrassing photos with their siblings for Bhai Duj?
Last year was our first Diwali with a team in the US, and we wanted to welcome them properly—so we mailed them some gifts! Our Boston team took part in their very first game of Tambola, following it up with a virtual quiz using the Kahoot! app. It was a small celebration that helped us bridge the vast geographical and cultural divide between folks in Boston, Bengaluru, and Mumbai.
This past Holi happened to be right at the beginning of the pandemic, so while many people opted out, others took to the street cautiously. People were advised to wear masks and not smear gulal… it was a completely different experience. Some of us took a new approach and played multiplayer video games with coworkers, friends, and family. Games like Teen Patti Gold and PUBG got creative with in-game Holi experiences like gulal collections, Holi-themed outfits, and paint-throwing abilities.
Take it to video
Just because you can’t be with your family or coworkers on feast days doesn’t mean you can’t celebrate with them. Video conferencing makes it easy to connect with anyone in the world at any time. So your family can hold their vigil for Krishna Janmashtami over a video call and then break your fast together. Or you can take virtual visits to your neighbors and families, stopping “door-to-door” through planned video calls. With everyone staying mostly indoors, feasts, flag hoistings, and temple visits are now available via video conferencing and live streams, making these festivals more accessible than ever before.
While our festivals will return to normal in due time, concessions must be made for safety. With a little bit of creativity and motivation, we can all celebrate our festivals together with coworkers, friends, and family despite the distance.