Celebrating Shared Cultural Heritage

MihirBy Mihir, product marketing


I first developed a love of music as a child in India; I went with my mother to my sister’s dance classes, which were accompanied by live musicians and provided my first exposure to live music. My family supported my interest, and my grandfather gave me the tabla (Indian hand drums) that I used throughout my school years. When I came to the United States for my master’s program, I packed my tabla in my luggage with a thought of playing them alone in my spare time.

Soon after I joined MathWorks in 2018, I came across a post on the company’s internal social network about Desi Utsav. It immediately caught my attention due to the name, which means South Asian festive event. I learned that a group of MathWorkers started the event in 2015 to give the South Asian community at MathWorks a platform to socialize and share their talents and interests. I never imagined I would find so many talented individuals at my workplace and be able to play my tabla with them in an Indian classical and fusion band.

Group photo of Desi Utsav performers on stage with drums, guitars, and other instruments.

Mihir playing his tabla (far left) with other performers at the 2019 event.

Joining the Festivities

MathWorks values rational decision making and continuous improvement, so it was no surprise that the Desi Utsav organizers had established and documented an efficient process for planning and executing the event. The journey toward the day of the event was filled with endless rehearsals after work, game nights, and sharing home-cooked food.

Having a community helped me with the motivation to keep up with music and stage activities. It also, I realized later, helps with mental health and physical fitness on a longer term. The learnings from these peers were not restricted to the stage and cultural realm; I now had experts in different areas of engineering on my caller list to reach out to when I am stuck at work with a Simulink error.

“Helping bring Desi Utsav to life along with my colleagues has been a deeply rewarding and memorable experience. We worked hard to organize an event that celebrated culture and brought MathWorkers together in a fun and entertaining way. I look forward to next year’s Desi Utsav.”

Lipi, fellow Desi Utsav organizer

After all the fun and experience we had at Desi Utsav 2018, it was time to give back and go the extra mile. We eagerly waited for the next season, and in 2019 I was motivated to take a lead role for all the stage activities, which meant acting as an artistic director: planning the performance program, dry runs for individual performances and for the program as a whole, and planning other activities at the event beyond the performances.

Seven female dancers in red and black traditional Indian dress

The Rajasthani dance from the 2018 event.

I worked with Lipi, Sudarshan, Hirak, Vikaasa, Sharannya, and many more people who made this event a big hit with 10 spectacular performances and over 150 attendees. After the performances, which included unique combination of Indian fusion and Bollywood dance and musical acts, we all enjoyed delicious Indian food and socializing over dinner. Videographers, wall painting artists, and many other talented people contributed to the event with their unique skills. This led to having the memories captured in a beautiful way with a photobooth around the art pieces created by our peers.

A Supportive Community

The corporate culture at MathWorks provides a great environment for people to connect with other staff who share their interests. You might walk by a conference room and see MathWorkers eagerly showing each other the devices they use to make electronic music, a group of knitters from different departments who come together to learn new techniques or help fix mistakes, or a Toastmasters group working on their presentation skills. Seeing talented people doing the things they love and sharing that with colleagues is inspiring.

The support we get from the company itself is integral to the Desi Utsav’s success. The organizers and performers are able to use conference rooms and other spaces on campus to plan and rehearse for the event. In addition, the company’s internal social networking tool provides a forum to invite performers to participate and to promote the event. 

Group photo of performers off-stage in colorful dress

Performers from the 2019 event.

Maintaining Connections

Getting involved with Desi Utsav let me actively keep up with my hobbies, which really came handy during the pandemic and the lockdowns. At my first Desi Utsav, I met the people I would become close friends with at MathWorks for the years to come. I get to spend time with them at other MathWorks events too, like the summer outing and company anniversary trip.

When I look back to the memories of those events, it never feels like I am away from my home country. In fact, I learned so much more about our culture and Indian classical music because of being a part of this journey to organize these events.

Although the pandemic prevented us from having the event for a few years, I’m excited to see this great experience restart in 2023.

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