Jeeta Gandhi celebrates her culture through dance and connection


Jeeta Gandhi, program manager, brand strategy at Elastic®, is a first-generation Indian American — her parents immigrated to the US in the 1970s. The community of Indians in Philadelphia, PA, where her parents moved, was small but close-knit, Jeeta says. 

“There weren’t a lot of people like me,” she says. 

Navigating her Indian heritage and American surroundings was a delicate balance. Despite her family's efforts to uphold their cultural traditions through festivals and food, Jeeta often felt something was missing with her connection to her roots.

However, a few families got together to form an Indian school to help first-generation children like her learn more about where their families originated from. That’s where she started to forge that connection to her culture. As she connected more with this community, embracing vegetarianism, yoga, and learning Hindi fundamentals, she was able to unravel the complex layers of her identity. 

In high school, Jeeta started to immerse herself in Indian dance, where she found friendships and community with others who shared similar backgrounds. Jeeta cultivated a deeper appreciation for her ancestry, recognizing the importance of understanding her history and cultural heritage.

“That helped forge the fusion, I was a bit more interested in where I came from,” she says. “It was important to understand the history, background, and culture.”

Dance is an expression of Jeeta’s identity and a way to connect with others, whether  through formal lessons or leading a virtual session dance during Elastic's fall festival to celebrate Diwali last year.

Joining the ElastAsians Employee Resource Group (ERG) felt like a logical progression in her mission to promote cultural understanding and inclusivity in the workplace.

“I really like to travel and learn about other cultures,” she says. “So when I saw ElastAsians I got to know the leaders and went to the meetings to see how I could help.”

For the group’s fall festival, she not only presented on Diwali but also shared her passion by teaching some Bollywood dance moves.

“I've found acceptance here," Jeeta says. “I've learned that stepping out of my comfort zone is where the most significant growth occurs.”

Jeeta's commitment to sharing her culture extends beyond the workplace. She actively engages with her children's schools, organizing presentations on Indian holidays like Diwali and Holi, offering dance performances, henna art, and discussions on the significance of these festivities.

“At home, we celebrate Diwali in our own way,” Jeeta says. “We make sweets, decorate the house, and dress up—it's our American version.”

For Jeeta, passing down her heritage is essential, as is finding a supportive community at work. At Elastic, with its diverse workforce spanning over 40 countries, she's observed the transformative power of community firsthand, especially within the ERGs, where diverse voices come together.

To build a community, Jeeta recommends putting yourself out there. Connection has always helped Jeeta, and she’s seen many people blossom when they find their community. 

“Finding your voice, having a support system, people celebrating you — a lot of that comes from connection, whether it’s through music, art, food,” Jeeta says. “There are all sorts of ways to connect with people.”

“When people join in, we help others rise up.”

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