I would be grateful for an explanation of a custom that I have observed among colleagues from India - good Indian etiquette that seems to be extend to co-workers at my new workplace (outside India) where a small number of them work.
I have observed that when said colleagues return back to work after a visit to their home country, they bring "Indian-style" sweets, which are offered around the team/office. Some seem to be home-made and some come in what looks like store-bought packaging - not necessarily cheap either.
Part of the problem is that we have a slight language barrier. The office lingua franca is English, but this is spoken as a home language by very few people in the office (a number of foreign co-workers from different countries, and the local country is multicultural, too). So we (mostly) get along regarding the technical matters around work to be done, but things like cultural practices are more difficult since people are not always able to convey the correct nuanced meaning in English of what they try to explain, sometimes due to a limited English vocabulary. Cultural backgrounds often contain unspoken, ingrained expectations which one isn't always aware one carries, and thus does not take the effort to explain...
In short: I could ask themselves about the sweets, but am afraid to come over as ungrateful, or rudely questioning good manners, when I'm simply curious.
- So, why are sweets handed around the office? And what are the expectations around this custom?
- What sort of foodstuffs are generally given in such situations?
- Should I/other recipients reciprocate in some way? Or is a "thank you" and/or "welcome back" sufficient?
- Is there a religious significance/connotation?
- May I decline? May I ask for another one?
This happens at other times than Diwali, so I guess this question about Diwali gifts does not apply.