To all my wonderful women friends, I wish you an absolutely wonderful day filled with special moments and endearing memories!
To be honest, I didn’t even know it was Women’s Day until this morning, when I was on my way to work. I saw a ‘parade’ of women wearing the traditional Kerala sari of crème-colored cotton with gold edging (real gold I’m told, woven into the fabric) walking along the road with umbrellas to shield against the sun. They were following an open lorry with music playing from the back. My driver, Shaji, said, “They are walking in honor of Women’s Day.”
I arrived at the office to find several young men and four or five women standing around the security desk where I sign in everyday. This was not usual, since typically, I come in at an odd time and no one is EVER standing by the security desk, except of course the security guards. In my usual fashion, I took in the scene, made a determination that they were engaged in some sort of photo shoot (someone had a camera) and began stepping aside, moving back, basically doing everything I could to avoid them.
They were all looking at me, which is not unusual, and then the young men started coming toward me. One of them handed me a rose and said, “Happy Women’s Day!” while another took a photo. I replied, “WOW, this is pretty cool; thank you!” It turned out that the women were waiting around while they unwrapped a box containing chocolate bars that they were also handing out.
As I walked into the office, all the men that I saw said, “Happy Women’s Day” and they actually truly meant it! One of our team members came in and quite sincerely said he was really happy that I could be here for Women’s Day and he wished me all the best. Extraordinary!
One of my colleagues explained that in India they see women in the form of power. In the temples there are a number of very important devis (goddesses). He mentioned three Hindu goddesses, Saraswati (goddess of knowledge, music, arts and science), Lakshmi (goddess of wealth, prosperity (material and spiritual), fortune and the embodiment of beauty) and Prithvi (the mother goddess, in Sanskrit meaning earth). Prithvi and Lakshmi are both wives of Lord Vishnu.
When I looked these up, I found that two are part of what is called the triplet goddesses of Hinduism. Brahma is creator, so he needs knowledge or goddess Saraswati to create. Vishnu is observer, so he needs the goddess of wealth and prosperity, Lakshmi. And finally, Shiva is destroyer and re-creator, so he needs the goddess Kali (aka Parvati or Durga) for power.
My Hindu colleagues have mentioned 330 million deities. I’ve asked if they know them all, and I get very interesting answers.
The firm sponsored 100 of our women employees to attend a session and High Tea at the Crown Plaza from 2:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. (They were all dressed up for the occasion!) A presentation of 100 key women in history was included (our creative team put it together) and I understand they did other empowerment kinds of things.
Several of us decided it was a good day to not actually do any work … and then we all laughed and went back to work!! But later, we went outside for photos; here are a couple.
And so the day was bright with acknowledgement and you could tell that the men of India were happy to have such wonderful women around!
[Post Script: I was telling a friend about the High Tea at the Crown Plaza and said it was at the Crown Royal. After our laughter subsided, I said “I haven’t had a drink since I’ve been here and clearly I’m in need of one.” And then we laughed some more.]