Top Biden Administration Officials, Indian American Lawmakers Celebrate Diwali on Capitol Hill
Congressman Tim Ryan during Diwali celebrations at the White House. (Twitter photo/Indiaspora)
By REENA BHARDWAJ
WASHINGTON (ANI) – A top official of the White House and influential U.S. lawmakers together with members of the Indian American community gathered for Diwali celebrations Oct. 26 on Capitol Hill. The annual reception was hosted by Indiaspora that also honored some of the top Indian Americans in the Biden administration, including Surgeon General Vivek Murthy and Neera Tanden, Senior Advisor and Staff Secretary to President Joe Biden.
“Diwali is about light overcoming darkness, and there has been a lot of darkness in the last year and a half. To be able to celebrate Diwali, to talk about the meaning, to talk about the light in oneself and the light in others in these tough times, means a lot and I’m grateful to be here,” the surgeon general told ANI.
“But one of the things that concerns me most about the last few years is another type of pandemic, the invisible pandemic that we are in the midst of. That’s a pandemic of polarization where it feels increasingly people have turned against each other, where they have demonized one another, called each other evil and treated each other as so. That’s a particular kind of darkness,” he said.
The program included the traditional Diwali ‘Diya’ lighting and remarks from several elected and appointed leaders in federal government and lawmakers. Indian American Congresspersons Ami Bera, Pramila Jayapal, Ro Khanna and Raja Krishnamoorthi also addressed the gathering and greeted the community.
“As an Indian American to see the Diwali celebrations getting bigger at the Hill, is not just about Indian Americans but also members of the Congress both Republicans and Democrats. Diwali is about coming together and enlightenment, that’s something to remember,” Congressman Bera told ANI.
The event also witnessed an interfaith prayer service that was attended by members of Congress. Congressman James Clyburn, Steve Chabot, Congresswoman Judy Chu and Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney praised the contribution of Indian Americans in the development of the U.S. and stressed the significance of Diwali in a post-Covid-19 world.
“The congressmen at the gathering are not just Indian Americans, we have African American, Chinese American mainstream American congressman. It’s historic that such a diverse group of congressmen are supporting us, ” M.R. Rangaswami founder Indiaspora told ANI.
“We are honored to celebrate Diwali on Capitol Hill and share our traditions with the leaders who have dedicated themselves to serving the public. The Indian diaspora has had a profound impact on American society, and their diverse contributions continue to strengthen our nation,” said Sanjeev Joshipura, executive director of Indiaspora.
American actress and singer Mary Millben was also present to celebrate Diwali at Capitol Hill. The singer performed the ‘Om Jai Jagdish Hare’ rendition for the diaspora and community members, too, crooned the hymn with the singer.
“To see folks come all over the country to celebrate Diwali is so beautiful and meaningful to me. I have a strong relationship with the people of India. It’s a very full-circle moment for me to be with people whom I love and a culture that I love, I am delighted to be here,” Millben told ANI.