Interview with Angeli Vadera, Ethnic Minority Lawyers Division committee member
Angeli Vadera has been a member of our Ethnic Minority Lawyers Division (EMLD) Committee for over a year.
She’s been heavily involved with our work on religious celebrations – particularly around Hindu and Sikh dates – and is also chair of the Hindu Lawyers Association (HLA).
In this interview she tells us all about Diwali (27 October), why it’s important for firms and individuals to mark faith holidays and what her work with the EMLD and HLA entails.
Why did you join the Ethnic Minority Lawyers Division committee? How do you think it’s impacted you?
From a very young age, I developed a strong interest in diversity and inclusion and a passion for helping others within my own community.
My interest transpired into the legal profession when I entered the profession as a paralegal at Keoghs Solicitors.
Although the firm is one of the very few law firms that has a diverse workforce, I realised that it wasn’t true of the profession as a whole.
I joined the EMLD committee as I felt it was a good platform to represent the interests of BAME lawyers.
To date, the committee has provided me with an opportunity to promote BAME lawyers and provides a platform for me to campaign for a more diverse legal profession.
Progress has been made, but more still needs to be done.
What does your work with the Hindu Lawyers Association entail?
The HLA is an organisation which aims to promote diversity and inclusion in the legal profession with a particular focus on promoting the interests of Hindu lawyers.
The organisation also aims to promote access to justice for faith-based community centres.
My role mainly involves promoting the interests of Hindu lawyers by holding advisory positions like on the EMLD and on the SRA.
Diwali is coming up on 27 October. Could you tell us a bit about what it is and who celebrates it? How will you be celebrating Diwali this year?
Diwali is a festival which is celebrated by Hindus and Sikhs across the world.
For Hindus, the festival is celebrated as it believed to be the date that Lord Rama came back to his home town of Ayodhya after 14 years of exile after defeating the demon Ravana.
The word Diwali originates from the sanskrit word Deepavali, which means a row of lanterns as the people of Ayodhya lit lanterns, also known as diyas, to welcome Lord Rama home.
The festival signifies triumph over evil.
I celebrate the festival every year by visiting family and friends and going to the temple. The celebration also involves attending a firework display as it's a celebration of light over darkness.
It is a time for happiness and celebration which involves greeting and eating...lots of eating!
Why is it important for organisations to celebrate religious holidays? Could you recommend any easy ways that organisations or individuals could mark these dates and holidays?
Yes, when a firm celebrates a religious holiday other than Christmas, it sends out a sign of respect and gratitude to those employees which celebrate that holiday.
It also gives a signal to the whole of the firm that it understands difference within a workforce.
Easy ways in which a firm could celebrate religious holidays include putting the dates in firm calendars and/or distributing sweets on that specific day.
Even a Diwali card stuck on the canteen notice board will mean a lot to those who celebrate that holiday.
Do you think there's a place for everyone to celebrate religious holidays even if they’re not part of that religion?
I’ve been brought up to celebrate both Christmas and Diwali and trust me when I say it’s double the fun!
On a serious note, I believe that the religion of a person is another label which can either be used to segregate or celebrate difference.
I prefer the latter.
Could you sum up Diwali in three words?
Eat, pray, love.