This year, Diwali fever reached the US in a big way, where a burgeoning community of over three million Indians lives.
The US President Barack Obama celebrated the festival of light – ‘Diwali ‘by lighting the first-ever DIYA in his Oval office at the White House. Thus, he became the first US president to personally celebrate Diwali at the White House. Incidentally, it was his last Diwali as US President and he hoped his successors would continue the tradition.
“As Hindus, Jains, Sikhs, and Buddhists light the diya, share in prayers, decorate their homes, and open their doors to host and feast with loved ones, we recognize that this holiday rejoices in the triumph of good over evil and knowledge over ignorance. It also speaks to a broader truth about our shared American experience”, said Obama. “This year, I was honoured to kindle the first-ever diya in the Oval Office — a lamp that symbolizes how darkness will always be overcome by light,” he said, according to a statement issued by the Embassy of US in India. “It is a tradition that I hope future Presidents will continue,” he added.
On behalf of the entire Obama family, the US President said, “I wish you and your loved ones peace and happiness on this Diwali”. Obama also posted on his official Facebook page (@potus), along with a picture of him lighting the diya, surrounded by a group of young Indian-Americans. Mr Obama also said his wife Michelle and he will never forget how the people of India welcomed them and danced with them in Mumbai on Diwali.
Earlier, in 2009 also the US president had kindled a diya in his office with some Indian Americans working in his administration. “I was proud to be the first President to host a Diwali celebration at the White House in 2009, and Michelle and I will never forget how the people of India welcomed us with open arms and hearts and danced with us in Mumbai on Diwali”, said Obama.
The Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton also greeted the Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists and Jains across the world on the occasion of Diwali. “On Sunday, nearly a billion Hindus, Jains, Sikhs, and Buddhists around the world — including more than two million Americans — will celebrate Diwali, the festival of lights. For members of these faiths, lighting the lamp (the diya) is a reminder that light prevails over darkness, knowledge over ignorance, and good over evil”, said Clinton. While no such wishes came from the Republican candidate Donald Trump, his daughter-in-law, Lara Trump, celebrated the festival of lights in a temple.
Intrestingly, this year, the United Nations (UN) headquarters, situated in Manhattan, New York, also celebrated Diwali for the very first time, as the ‘Happy Diwali’ wishes flashed on the iconic UN building.