US State Department

Ambassador Navtej Sarna and U.S. Deputy Secretary of State John J. Sullivan lighting the ceremonial lamp during the first Diwali celebration at the U.S. State Department in Washington, D.C. (photo provided)

On Nov. 5, the U.S. State Department organized its first Diwali celebration in collaboration with the Embassy of India in Washington, D.C.

Deputy Secretary of State John J. Sullivan and Ambassador of India to the United States Navtej Sarna were the chief guests at the event, which was also attended by over 200 guests, including other officials of the U.S. State Department and the Indian Embassy.

Sarna and Sullivan jointly lighted the ceremonial lamp and addressed the gathering.

Sullivan conveyed his greetings to all Indian Americans and Indians on Diwali and thanked the Embassy of India and the South Asian American Employee Association for organizing the event, stated a press release. He mentioned that the uniting theme in the celebration of Diwali is the thread of triumph – good over evil, light over darkness and knowledge over ignorance. He said that the message of Diwali is one of “hope” and added that the “celebration of Diwali at the state department reflected the great strength of partnership with India and shared values of tolerance, diversity, freedom and justice.”

In his remarks, Sarna expressed his appreciation for the initiative taken by the South Asian American Employee Association for celebrating Diwali at the State Department. He said that the celebration of Diwali at the State Department symbolized the growing people-to-people connect between India and the U.S. He highlighted the rising profile and growing recognition of the contribution of Indian Americans, including within the state department. He also made a reference to the release of the Diwali stamp by the United States Postal Service in 2016 in recognition of the closer cultural ties and commonalities between the two democracies.

The celebrations included recital of Hindustani classical music and vegetarian dinner.

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