Washington, DC, USA: US President Trump celebrated Diwali, the festival of lights, on Wednesday, at the White House and hailed the incredible contributions of the Indian-American community, saying he valued his very strong relationship with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Trump and daughter Ivanka were joined by senior Indian-American members of his administration including Nikki Haley, the US Ambassador to the United Nations and Seema Verma, Administrator, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
Wishing Hindus, Sikhs & Jains around the world a joyful #Diwali. Saal Mubarak to all! Looking forward to my visit to India for #GES2017 — Ivanka Trump also tweeted.
“Today, I was deeply honored to be joined by so many administration officials and leaders of the Indian-American community – to celebrate Diwali — the Hindu Festival of Lights. As we do so, we especially remember the People of India, the home of the Hindu faith, who have built the world’s largest democracy. I greatly value my very strong relationship with Prime Minister Modi,” Trump said.
The US President further said, “Diwali is one of the most important celebrations in the Hindu religion. A time of peace and prosperity for the New Year, it is a tradition that is held dear by more than 1 billion Hindus worldwide and more than 2 million Hindus in the United States. It is also celebrated by millions of Buddhists, Sikhs, and Jains in America, India and around the world.”
“Our Indian-American neighbors and friends have made incredible contributions to our country – and to the world. You have made extraordinary contributions to art, science, medicine, business and education. America is especially thankful for its many Indian-American citizens who serve BRAVELY in our armed forces and as first responders in communities throughout our great land.
“The Lighting of the Diya is typically celebrated by families in their homes. Today, we proudly celebrate this holiday in the people’s house. In so doing, we reaffirm that Indian-Americans and Hindu-Americans are truly cherished, treasured and beloved members of our great American family.
“We wish all of America’s Hindus and everyone who celebrates Diwali a joyous holiday and blessings of light, goodness, and prosperity throughout the New Year. And now we will light the Diya,” he said.
The Diwali celebration at the White House was first started by President George Bush. During his term it was celebrated mostly in the India Treaty Room of the adjacent executive office building, which is part of the White House complex. However, President Bush never personally participated in the White House Diwali celebrations.
In the first year of his presidency, former President Barack Obama lit the ceremonial Diya in the East Room of the White House. In his last year in office in 2016, Obama for the first time observed the festival of lights in the Oval Office.
Diwali is an auspicious festival that symbolizes the triumph of good over evil. Spectacular lights, firecrackers, irresistible traditional sweets and exchanging gifts mark the festival. While, the Hindus celebrate this festival to commemorate the homecoming of Lord Rama after 14 year-long years in exile and his victory over Ravana, for the people of Jain faith, this festival carries the essence of spiritual upliftment because it marks the achievement of Nirvana or Moksha by Mahavira, the last Tirthankara.
Diwali is popularly known as the “festival of lights” and is observed incessantly for five days that kicks off in late Ashwin and concludes in the early Kartika month according to the lunisolar Hindu calendar. Each day of the festival is associated with six different principal stories. In North India, worshipping of Lord Ganesha and Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth, is an important part of Diwali that signifies welcoming of prosperity and wealth.
Diwali, the festival of lights is indeed the most awaited and the most celebrated festival of India. People in every nook and cranny of the country welcome the festival with enthusiastic gestures. This wonderful festival is the celebration of five days. On third day of the celebratory occasion the key rituals of the Diwali festival takes place. Lighting of Diyas and candles all around the house, worshipping the Laxmi Ganesha to summon health and wealth and bursting crackers are the chief rituals of the festival.
In addition to that, the exchange of heartfelt gifts during Diwali these days have become a mandatory part of the celebration. Friends, families and colleagues share with each other Diwali gifts as a gesture of showing love and affection. Also, special and grand feast with delicious food that includes different varieties of sweets is the special attraction of the occasion.