The United Nations (UN) commemorated Diwali for the first time and lit up its imposing headquarters on the Indian festival of lights. The UN Secretariat building was lit up for Diwali from October 29-31.

The UN headquarters porticos were lit up in bright colours, reading ‘Happy Diwali’, along with the image of a traditional ‘Diya’, projected onto the building.

Syed Akbaruddin, India’s Ambassador to the UN tweeting his thanks to the UN, posted – “Lighting up. @UN lights up for #Diwali for 1st time….Happy Diwali! @UN celebrates Diwali for 1st time. Thank you @UN_PGA for this initiative”.

The General Assembly President Peter Thomson, also tweeted a picture of the UN building lit up, and he said “Light over Darkness, hope over despair, knowledge over ignorance, good over evil – the UN lights up – Happy Diwali”.

From this year onwards, Diwali has been made an optional holiday for the UN, said India’s Permanent Mission to the UN. Also, noting that the festival is observed in several UN member states, the resolution had called on UN bodies to avoid holding meetings on Diwali, declaring it a ‘no-meeting’ day.

Earlier in April 2016, the birth anniversary of B R Ambedkar, the architect of the Indian Constitution and Dalit rights activist, was observed at the UN for the first time with focus on combating inequalities to achieve Sustainable Development Goals. In June 2016, the UN building was lit up on the occasion of the International Yoga Day, with images of Yoga postures projected on the imposing headquarters.


by Ashwani Srivastava

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