Obama wishes Indians 'Happy Diwali and Saal Mubarak'

Washington, Nov 2 (IANS) President Barack Obama has wished Indians "a Happy Diwali and Saal Mubarak" saying the festival reminded Americans that the US "is home to many faiths and traditions, and that our diversity makes us

stronger."

That's "why I'm proud that this year Democrats and Republicans in Congress joined together for the first-ever celebration of Diwali on Capitol Hill," he said in a statement issued Friday on the observance of Diwali.

Over the last five years, Obama noted, his spouse "Michelle and I have been honoured to have the chance to observe this ancient holiday, both at the White House and in India, and we wish all those celebrating this weekend a Happy Diwali and Saal Mubarak."

Like the previous years, the White House will have a Diwali celebration on Tuesday where "the First Lady will provide remarks."

Obama has since 2009 kept up the tradition of White House Diwali celebrations started by President George W. Bush in 2003.

Here is Obama's full message:

"For the Hindus, Jains, Sikhs and Buddhists celebrating Diwali this weekend, the Festival of Lights reaffirms the things in life that matter most.

"Dancing, celebration, and good food remind us that life's greatest joys are the simple pleasures that come from spending time with people we love.

"Contemplation and prayer remind us that that people of all faiths have an obligation to perform seva, or service to others. And the flame of the diya,or lamp, reminds us that light will ultimately triumph over darkness.

"Here in the United States, Diwali also reminds us that our nation is home to many faiths and traditions, and that our diversity makes us stronger, which is why I'm proud that this year Democrats and Republicans in Congress joined together for the first-ever celebration of Diwali on Capitol Hill.

"Over the last five years, Michelle and I have been honoured to have the chance to observe this ancient holiday, both at the White House and in India, and we wish all those celebrating this weekend a Happy Diwali and Saal Mubarak."

Last Tuesday US lawmakers joined Indian-Americans for the first ever Diwali celebrations on Capitol Hill after the US Congress passed resolutions honouring the Indian festival of lights and celebrating the strong relationship between the US and India.

(Arun Kumar can be contacted at arun.kumar@ians.in)

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