Washington: White House hosted the biggest Diwali reception ever on Monday which also saw the presence of several Indian Americans from the Biden administration.
"We are honoured to host you. This is the first Diwali reception of this scale in the White House ever to be held. We have more Asian Americans than ever before in history and we want to thank you for making the Diwali celebration a joyous part of American culture," US President Joe Biden said during a reception to celebrate Diwali at the White House.
Wishing a "Happy Diwali" to more than one billion Hindus, Jains, Sikhs, and Buddhists celebrating this Festival of Lights in the United States, India, and around the world, Biden thanked the Asian American community in the US for making the Diwali celebration a joyous part of American culture.
"As we host the official White House Diwali reception, we are honoured to light the diya surrounded by members of the most diverse Administration in American history — led by Vice President Kamala Harris, the first Black American and South Asian American to become Vice President."
Optimism, courage, empathy
Biden thanked for the optimism, courage, and empathy demonstrated by the incredible South Asian community all across America.
"Together, South Asian Americans reflect the soul of who we are as a nation, whether helping us emerge stronger from this pandemic, building an economy that works for everyone, or serving and protecting our communities and our country."
'Light over darkness'
As the world celebrates this gathering of light, he said, "as this community has experienced too often — that there is always darkness lurking. American history has been a constant struggle between the American ideal that we are all created equal and the harsh reality that we have never fully lived up to it.
"By marking the victory of light over darkness, Diwali is a reminder that each of us has the power to bring light to the world, whether here in America or around the world."
With prayers, dances, fireworks, and sweets, Biden said may all who observe Diwali enjoy the chance to celebrate and connect, to feel the pride of the community, and to remember the power in the gathering of light."
Moreover, US vice-president Kamala Harris also delivered remarks from the White House on the occasion of Diwali celebrations. She said, "White House is the people's house and together our president and first lady have made this place where every American can celebrate their honour and tradition."
Tonight, Vice President Harris said, the Biden administration joins over 1 billion people around the world to light the 'Diya' and celebrate the fight for good over evil, knowledge over ignorance and light over darkness.
Moreover, First Lady Jill Biden praised the Asian American community in the US for "helping us light our way forward."
Persistence, faith, love
"With persistence, with faith, with love, I am grateful that today these diyas have guided you to this home. A home that belongs to all of you," the first lady said.
Diwali is an auspicious festival that symbolises the triumph of good over evil. Spectacular lights, firecrackers, irresistible traditional sweets and exchanging gifts mark the festival.
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.