American Hindus can rejoice that their most important festival, Diwali, has finally gotten a nod from pop culture. Last night on NBC’s “The Office,” chatty Kelly invited her colleagues to a party for Diwali, which she described as a festival that’s “awesome” and “really old.” Bossman Michael’s ostentatious but always off-target political correctness was in full flower: he referred to Kelly as “one of our more ethnic coworkers,” called Diwali “Hindu Halloween,” and presented a slideshow of famous Indians that included Apu from “The Simpsons.” Unsurprisingly, it was the deranged but well-read Dwight who knew the holiday’s actual origins. Michael also passed around hilariously pixelated copies of the Kama Sutra, thrilling Kevin: “This is the best meeting we’ve ever had!”
Michael may be goofy, but it’s tight-lipped Angela who’s truly intolerant. She asks Kelly how many gods Hindus have, and Kelly shrugs, “Oh, hundreds, I think.” At the party, Angela sniffs at the buffet and asks what she can eat, since she’s vegetarian. Told that “it’s all vegetarian,” she wrinkles her nose and says, “I’ll just have some bread.” Angela also guards the shoes in the entryway (Hindus remove their shoes before entering many places) so they won’t be stolen.
After confusing samosas with s’mores (“these s’mores are disgusting”), Michael tactlessly quizzes Kelly’s parents about arranged marriage and sati (the ancient and now forbidden practice of a widow throwing herself on a funeral pyre). A sly dig at Indian culture is the mother’s remark that Michael’s blond girlfriend is “very fair”; Michael agrees she’s “very fair and kind.” Meanwhile, Dwight arrives in proper Indian attire.
The show wraps up with Michael’s hilarious twist on Adam Sandler’s “Hanukkah Song,” which he sings accompanied by Dwight on guitar: “Put on your saris, it’s time to celebrate Diwali…. The goddess of destruction Kali stopped by to celebrate Diwali…. If you’re Indian and you like to party, have a happy, happy, happy, happy Diwali.” Watch it here: