Quote EndQuote Cross-Cultural Strategy

Diwali Traditions can ‘illuminate your path’ to Better Business

Posted by Alisa | 09.15.15
Some Diwali Traditions you may have Missed...

Some Diwali Traditions you may have Missed…

 

In an increasingly multicultural society, many Canadians are now somewhat familiar with the festival of Diwali, or Deepavali, a Hindu celebration in November spanning five days. Translated into ‘row of lights’, Diwali celebrates the triumph of light over dark and good versus evil. It also signifies the upcoming Harvest and peak times for agriculture in India (this year it happens on November 11th). Those who have been raised in Hindu families will no doubt be familiar with the significance of each of the five days of Diwali. Maybe, as a savvy, culturally-sensitive marketer, you already know this as well. But, are you in touch with the lesser-known aspects of Diwali? Do you know how it’s celebrated today and how it has evolved? And how do you incorporate these traditions into your marketing strategy? We outline a few good places to start…

 

The first thing you should understand is that marketing around Diwali is a lot like marketing around Christmas. It doesn’t come off well, or sincere, if that’s the only time you reach out to your customers, especially South Asian communities. That’s why we suggest you make it your mission to do some cultural intel on a regular basis. Strive to understand your target consumer, and not just because a certain cultural demographic is larger or more affluent, but also because they’re your local business and your best ‘word of mouth’. However, for people just dipping their toe into the multicultural marketing pool, Diwali does present a convenient ‘starting off point’.

 

Fireworks over Chennai, India, during Diwali week

Fireworks over Chennai, India, during Diwali week

 

This article won’t spend unnecessary time going over the usual meaning and significance of Diwali. Not that it isn’t important, but this information is freely available and found in abundance on the internet. Though, for those of you who are in need of Diwali Traditions 101, or maybe just a refresher, here are some great places to find explanations and some historical background:  www.diwalicelebrations.net and iloveindia.com are some great sites to visit. What we want to address in this blog are the lesser known traditions of Diwali, which are great jumping off points for some Diwali-focused marketing campaigns.

 

GAMBLING – When Vice is Nice, at least for 5 Days

 

Whether Dice or Cards, Gambling is considered Lucky during Diwali

Whether Dice or Cards, Gambling is considered Lucky during Diwali

 

Gambling is extremely popular during the entire Diwali festival, but is most popular on Diwali day. The memories of Diwali night can be joyful to the winners and lamentable to the losers, depending on how well they did at the card table. In fact, there’s a popular saying which states that ‘one who does not gamble on this day will reborn as a donkey in his next birth.’

 

Games involving dice are also a popular pastime during Diwali, thanks in part to a legend surrounding the Goddess Parvati. The legend goes that she once played dice with her husband Lord Shiva on Diwali day.  Elated with her win, Parvati announced that whoever gambled on Diwali night would ‘mint wealth throughout the year’. Since then, the game received its godly sanction and became a part of the Diwali tradition.

 

Usually, it is carried out in private homes, with games between friends and relatives. However, with the emphasis on money, and the allowance, or rather encouragement of gambling during Diwali week, Casinos and race tracks are positioned to do quite well during this time. That is only true if they know how to position their marketing. With the right message they could encourage game players and their families to leave their homes and celebrate Diwali within their doors. Casinos also have a natural ‘leg up’ on other venues because they already incorporate light displays and colourful signs and entrances into their usual decor. Why not make use of the Diwali tradition of ‘lighting up the night’ and illuminate your Casino’s walkways, streets, and windows or maybe even host a fireworks display? Cultural festivities encourage you to be daring and are the perfect time to go all out. 

 

The act of gambling doesn’t always have to be centered around adults, either. Many new and exciting online games and Apps, such as online Rummy, have brought together young and old for a fun night of card playing. Digital offers such as this can also transcend geographical distance and barriers. They can help unite family and friends who may be far from each other, but who nonetheless want to share their Diwali celebrations. Here’s an example of a ‘family-friendly’ Diwali-based game that was recently launched and is gaining in popularity: See Here.

 

 BUYING GIFTS AND CLOTHES – It’s gone from ‘Little’ to ‘Luxury’ in the Digital Age

 

Shopping for new Household items is Common during Diwali

Shopping for new Household items is Common during Diwali

 

It is of course widely known that during Diwali it is imperative to dress your best and have your house immaculately clean. During the first day of Diwali, families begin to clean their homes and make small renovations in honour of the guests and gods that will visit them during the coming days. For some businesses this can translate directly into increased sales, as it is traditional for people to buy precious metals and don new clothing in honour of the goddess of wealth.

 

Nowadays, the buying of clothing is not as popular, as most people can afford to purchase new clothes throughout the year. Wealthier urban dwellers now splurge on gold, jewelry, clothes and expensive gifts such as electronics. Online shopping is also becoming increasingly popular with younger consumers. Online Diwali sales are no longer just for sweets and clothes, but for televisions, air conditioners and even cars. Online gift hampers are also an immerging trend. Amazon even offers huge discounts on electronics during this time. Which begs the question, ‘if Amazon is already doing it, and getting sales, why aren’t you?’

 

 OPENING OF NEW ACCOUNTS – Saving, after the Diwali Splurge

 

Diwali is not only a Time to Spend, but a Time to Save!

Diwali is not only a Time to Spend, but a Time to Save!

 

The deity Kuber is also worshiped during the main day of Diwali. He is the treasurer among Hindu deities and his presence is to help those who are good at earning money, but not so good at saving it. Banks and financial institutions, as well as insurance companies, could very well use this time to promote their products and services, particularly savings accounts, RESP’s, TFSA’s or any financial product that encourages saving or at least the opening of a new account.

 

 

BROTHERLY LOVE – Sister Appreciation is Big on Diwali’s Last Day

 

 

A Diwali Custom: Sisters greet brothers by applying Tika to their forehead

A Diwali Custom: Sisters greet brothers by applying Tika to their forehead

 

The final day of Diwali is dedicated to the relationship between brothers and sisters. According to tradition, men cannot eat anything prepared by their wives on this day, but must visit their sisters to share a meal. The custom derives from the story about Yama, the deity associated with death. He is believed to have visited his sister Yami on the second day after the new moon and declared that, if all sisters did the same for their brothers on that day, each year their brothers would be kept safe.

 

Generally, brothers visit their family homes and present their sisters with special gifts. Again, this is the perfect time for businesses to emphasise the sharing of ‘experiences’. Maybe roll out a service or product that sisters can enjoy with their brothers or their families? Or present gift packages that focus on spoiling the important women in your life. Promotions similar to Mother’s Day could be used as a template, but with the focus being on Sister Appreciation instead.

 

Diwali Events are colourful and Big, like these dancers at Simon Fraser University

Diwali Events are colourful and Big, like these dancers at Simon Fraser University

 

We hope we’ve inspired you to go out and dream up a fabulous Diwali event, or promotion, for your business. Think bigger, brighter and more colourful – that’s always our best recommendation. But if you’re still not certain where to begin, contact us at QEQ. We’ll be happy to ‘light your way’.

                                                                                                                                             

Sources: Images sourced from Flickr Creative Commons and Corbis Royalty-Free Images Inc.