Mr. President Barrack Obama on Wednesday lit a ceremonial Diwali lamp at the White House to mark a victory of light over darkness. It was a complete showcase by America’s multi-cuisine affection to show the gesture to the Indians worldwide. We saw the similar gesture by Bush in 2003 but Obama became the first President who personally graced the ceremony. It was a brief affair that that began with an incongruous performances by a capella group of Hindu Community, Penn Masala and ended with a traditional Sanskrit invocation by the priest from the local Shiv and Vishnu temple.
I was just listening Obama’s speech on the news channel where he added that “On this Saturday all the Hindus, Jains, Sikhs, Buddhists in America and all around the world will celebrate the holiday by lighting of Diyas and candles to mark the victory of light over darkness.” He commented that it is our foremost duty to reach out to those people who are in need of fortune, its a time of rejoicing, a time of reflection. It is our duty that we renew our commitment to make world a better place to live in.
With this celebration, Obama also signed an executive order that will re-establish President’s advisory committee and will take initiative on White House regarding Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. The US president who is a composite of American, Asia-Pacific and African culture brought together an unusual coalition in the east room of White House of Asian Americans, Indian-Americans as well as Pacific Islanders. These three groups work as a successful minorities but seldom work together.
The east room celebration was lasted for half an hour and the event was attended by the mixed group of Asians, Americans and Indians. India’s commerce minister Anand Sharma and Ambassador Meera Shankar also attended the event.
The White House was beautifully decorated from inside in a very simple way. A box of Indian Mithai or sweets was placed on 150 chairs in the East room. Obama after remarking on Asian-American initiative lit a single lamp from a candle. The priest from the local temple kept his chanting very short in the form of “Asatoma Sadgamaya” from the Upanishads which means lead us from the unreal to real, from darkness to light, from death to liberation.
Obama after lighting the diya, wished everyone a very happy diwali and Saal Mubarak as the priest ended his chanting with “Om Shanti Shanti”. He returned the priest’s Namaste and then headed towards his meetings regarding business of war.
One of the journalist present there stood up and said, “Thank you dear President for celebrating the Diwali ceremony”. Obama shot back with ” Oh Yes!! how about that?”. The Journalist smiled. Check out the video of the whole event below: