indica Washington Bureau
Diwali is a special opportunity to reflect on the bond of friendship between India and the United States, President Donald Trump has said as the White House confirmed that he would be celebrating the festival of lights in his Oval Office on November 13.
“The President will be celebrating Diwali with a ceremonial lighting of the diya (lamp) in the Oval Office next Tuesday,” Deputy Assistant to the president Raj Shah said in a statement.
The Diwali celebration was started by former President George W Bush in 2003 and was carried on by his successor Barack Obama.
In a special Diwali message, Trump said the festival is a special opportunity to reflect on the bond of friendship between the United States and India.
Extending his wishes for a happy and memorable Diwali, the president also extolled the “extraordinary” contributions of Indian-Americans in the development of the United States.
“We recognize the extraordinary contributions of Indian-Americans to the strength and success of our nation. Their achievements in business and industry, public service, education, scientific research, and other fields continue to represent the very best of our American virtues and the spirit of the Diwali season,” he said.
Trump asserted that the lighting of lamps on the occasion symbolizes the true meaning of Diwali, which is triumph of light over darkness and good over evil.
Trump added that First Lady Melania joins him in sending her best wishes for a very happy and memorable Diwali.
Apart from the president, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had said earlier this week that nearly a billion people from around the world will light the lamp “as a reminder that good ultimately overcomes evil, understanding over ignorance, and kindness over animosity”.
“As those celebrating decorates their homes with vibrant lights, I would also like to recognize the achievements of our friends in the United States observing Diwali who make important contributions to our country on a daily basis,” he had said.
The ‘Samosa Caucus’, an informal group of the Indian-Americans in the US Congress, that got re-elected to the House of Representatives in the crucial midterm elections, also joined Trump in extending Diwali wishes.
“Happy Diwali to those celebrating the Festival of Lights today, which commemorates the victory of good over evil and illumination of knowledge,” lawmaker Raja Krishnamoorthi said.
“Happy Diwali to the millions around the world celebrating the Festival of Lights! What a beautiful reminder that light prevails over darkness and that goodness will guide us toward a better future,” Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal said.
“These lights are physical, including lanterns, candles, and fireworks, but for those who light the flames, they hold a deeper meaning. Diwali celebrates awareness of one’s inner light and light’s triumph over darkness. It celebrates goodness over evil and hope over despair,” Senator John Cornyn, the Co-Chair of the Senate India Caucus, said.