Indian-Americans join President Trump to celebrate Diwali at the White House


President Donald Trump officiated at his first Diwali at the White House Oct. 17, lighting the ceremonial diya with more than twenty  Indian-Americans in attendance.

In his speech which was available on Facebook, along with a video of the event, the President said he was “deeply honored to be joined by so many administration officials and leaders of the Indian-American community – to celebrate Diwali — the Hindu Festival of Lights.”

The President’s first highest, cabinet-level Indian-American appointee, Nikki Haley, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, stood next to a seated Trump to his right. On his left was Ajit Pai, chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, as Trump read out his speech. Another top Indian-American appointee, Seema Verma, head of the Center for Medicare and Medicaid, whose name has been mentioned to head the Department of Health and Human Services, was among the crowd. The President’s daughter Ivanka Trump, who will be leading a business delegation to India later this year, also joined the gathering. Also present was Deputy Press Secretary Raj Shah, as was Republican Hindu Coalition founder Shalabh Kumar, who gave a brief speech praising President Trump for his achievements on taking office and recognition of the Hindu American community.

“As we do so, we especially remember the People of India, the home of the Hindu faith, who have built the world’s largest democracy,” Trump said, adding that he “greatly” valued his “very strong relationship” with India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Diwali is one of the most important celebrations in the Hindu religion, he noted, a time of peace and prosperity for the New Year for the billion Hindus worldwide and the more than 2 million Hindus in the United States. It is also celebrated by millions of Buddhists, Sikhs, and Jains in America, India and around the world, the President said.

“Our Indian-American neighbors and friends have made incredible contributions to our country – and to the world,” Trump said. “You have made extraordinary contributions to art, science, medicine, business and education. America is especially thankful for its many Indian-American citizens who serve BRAVELY in our armed forces and as first-responders in communities throughout our great land,” said the President.

In front of Trump’s presidential desk was a special table covered with a tricolor cloth on which a tall silver diya stand was placed encircled by a red and yellow garland of flowers, mostly marigolds, the traditional flower used in Hindu religious ceremonies.

While the Lighting of the Diya is typically celebrated by families in their homes. Trump said, “Today, we proudly celebrate this holiday in THE PEOPLE’S HOUSE. In so doing, we reaffirm that Indian-Americans and Hindu-Americans are truly cherished, treasured and beloved members of our great American FAMILY.”

“We wish all of America’s Hindus and everyone who celebrates Diwali a joyous holiday and blessings of light, goodness, and prosperity throughout the New Year. And now we will light the Diya,” said the President as he proceeded to light the traditional lamp.




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