WASHINGTON: US President Mr Barack Obama celebrated Diwali at the White House complex by lighting the traditional diya and hosting a reception for eminent Indian Americans and officials in his Administration.
“Diwali is a special holiday for millions across the country”, Mr Obama said in his address to the gathering of Hindu Americans here Friday night.
“Michelle and I greatly enjoy the occasion and the celebration in India last year,” Mr Obama said recollecting the dancing of the First Lady at the Diwali festival in Mumbai last year, which he too joined.
“Diwali is the time to celebrate victory of light over darkness, hope over despair. Hindus, Sikhs, Jains and Buddhists consider the day sacred. The message of this day is truly universal,” Mr Obama said at the event that was closed for the press.
Among those present on the occasion were the Indian Ambassador to the US Ms Nirupama Rao; Ms Neera Tandaon, the new president of the Center for American Progress, eminent Hindu American Ms Anju Bhargava, USAID Administrator Mr Raj Shah, the US Ambassador to Belize Mr Vinai Thummalapally, Hindu chaplain Ms Pratima Dhar and a Sikh delegation from the Golden Temple.
In his remarks, Mr Obama acknowledged the contributions of the Indian American community in every field of the country from New York Taxi drivers to the teenager, who won the Google science fair this year.
Two years ago Mr Obama became the first US President to celebrate Diwali at the White House.
On that day, he established the President’s Advisory Committee on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, which is headed by Ms Kiran Ahuja, who according to the President is doing an outstanding work. PTI