The White House hosted its fourth annual Diwali celebration on Tuesday, Nov. 13, at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building. Diwali, also known as “the festival of lights,” is a holiday celebrated by Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, and some Buddhists worldwide, providing a time for celebration and reflection. Its stories and rituals focus on the triumph of light over darkness and compassion over hatred.
In attendance were Tulsi Gabbard, congresswoman-elect of Hawaii’s 2nd District and the first practicing Hindu member of the U.S. Congress; Nirupama Rao, the Indian ambassador to the United States; Vice President Joe Biden; and Debadutta Dash, co-chair of the Washington State–India Trade Relations Action Committee.
Though President Obama was not at the event, he released a statement:
“Many who observe this holiday will light the Diya, or lamp, which symbolizes the triumph of light over darkness and knowledge over ignorance. As that lamp is lit, we should all recommit ourselves to bring light to any place still facing darkness. Earlier this year, we were reminded of the evil that exists in the world when a gunman walked into the Sikh gurdwara in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, and opened fire … We also saw compassion and love, in the heroic actions of the first responders and the outpouring of support from people across the country. Out of a day of sadness, we were reminded that the beauty of America remains our diversity, and our right to religious freedom. To those celebrating Diwali, I wish you, your families and loved ones Happy Diwali and Saal Mubarak.” (end)