The first ever celebration of Diwali on Capitol Hill took place on Tuesday, October 29. Diwali is the Hindu "Festival of Lights," and is one of the most important festivals for people in India and surrounding countries. The celebration involves lighting small lamps as a symbol of good triumphing over evil and calling for awareness of inner light. In India, people often will buy new clothes and businesses start a new year.
According to an article in The Indian Express, Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI), the first Hindu-American elected to the US Congress praised this unique celebration as a chance for people to become more aware about Diwali and its message. "Diwali is a time to light a welcoming lamp within our hearts, to invite the Lord into our life. This message has great relevance at a time when politics and partisanship seem to overshadow compassion and concern for the greater good," she said.
Bipartisan resolutions were submitted to the House of Representatives and the Senate, recognizing the significance of Diwali to Hindus, Sikhs, and Jains, and encouraging closer cooperation and stronger relationships between the United States and India. Senators Mark Warner (D-VA) and John Cornyn (R-TX), and Congressmen Congressmen Joe Crowley (D-NY) and Peter Roskam (R-IL), who introduced the bills in their respective houses, are co-chairs of committees that focus on relations with India.
The celebration was "an essential opportunity to come together not only to celebrate but to help increase understanding and tolerance amongst all Americans," said Crowley. The event will "set a precedent for Congressional Diwali celebrations for decades to come," he added. (OneIndia News)
Although the commemoration was the first for Capitol Hill, the White House has marked Diwali since 2003, under President George W. Bush. This year's celebration will be led by First Lady Michelle Obama on November 5th, and will include legislators, senior administration officials and leaders of the Indian-American community