Washington: U.S President Barack Obama celebrated Diwali on Thursday by lighting the ceremonial lamp at the White House amidst chanting of Vedic mantras seeking world peace. He is the first U.S. President to personally grace the occasion.
“I think it’s fitting that we begin this work in the week leading up to the holiday of Diwali — the festival of lights — when members of some of the world’s greatest faiths celebrate the triumph of good over evil,” Mr. Obama said at the function held at the historic East Room.
“This coming Saturday, Hindus, Jains, Sikhs and some Buddhists, here in America and around the world, will celebrate this holiday by lighting ‘diyas,’ or lamps, which symbolise the victory of light over darkness, and knowledge over ignorance,” Mr. Obama said.
Among those present on the occasion were several eminent members of the Indian community, nearly half-a-dozen members of Mr. Obama’s Cabinet and several Indian-American members of his administration. “While this is a time of rejoicing, it’s also a time for reflection, when we remember those who are less fortunate and renew our commitment to reach out to those in need,” Mr. Obama said, minutes before lighting the lamp while Pandit Narayanacharya Digalakote from the Sri Shiva Vishnu temple chanted Vedic mantras.