Elected officials across the United States paid homage to Diwali, the Festival of Lights, being respectful of the festival celebrated by many Hindus, Sikhs, Jains and Buddhists around the world.
President Donald Trump also offered his greetings to those in the U.S. and around the world celebrating the festival, according to a White House news release.
“Diwali is a special opportunity to reflect on the bond of friendship between the United States and India,” Trump said in a statement. “We recognize the extraordinary contributions of Indian Americans to the strength and success of our nation. Their achievements in business and industry, public service, education, scientific research, and other fields continue to represent the very best of our American virtues and the spirit of the Diwali season.”
The president will formally be celebrating Diwali on Nov. 13 in the Oval Office, Deputy Assistant to the president Raj Shah said in a statement.
Earlier this week, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had said nearly a billion people from around the world will light the lamp “as a reminder that good ultimately overcomes evil, understanding over ignorance, and kindness over animosity.”
Several members of Congress paid their respects, as well, including a number of Indian American officials.
Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi, D-Ill., who just won re-election for a second term, said, “For Sikhs, Jains, and my fellow Hindus here in the United States and across the world, Diwali is a time for gratitude as well as celebration of the triumph of light over darkness and good over evil. I want to wish a safe and happy Diwali to all families as they gather with their loved ones, light lamps in their homes, and pray for good health and peace for all people.”
Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., who also won re-election, said, “Happy Diwali to the millions around the world celebrating the festival of lights. … As a Hindu and the first South Asian woman to serve in Congress I am overjoyed by the beauty and joy with which Diwali is celebrated in the United States. As communities across the country come together to light lamps or diyas let us not forget the important lessons from Diwali, that dharma – goodness and righteousness – must guide us toward a better future and that light prevails over darkness even in the bleakest of times.”
Another Indian American re-elected to a second term was Ro Khanna, D-Calif. The U.S. representative said, “I am proud of my Hindu faith and a proud member of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus. This Diwali, I hope everyone has an opportunity to celebrate the triumph of good over evil, light over darkness, and knowledge over ignorance. Across the country, regardless of faith – I encourage everyone to reflect on ways to better serve their community.”
Hawaii’s South Asian American U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard passed along her well wishes as well, saying, “Diwali is celebrated by millions of people around the world, and represents a special time for spiritual renewal. The Festival of Lights celebrates the triumph of good over evil, love over hate, and truth over lies, serving as a powerful reminder to us all during this critical time.”
Other dignitaries passed along appreciation to the Diwali-celebrating communities, including CAPAC chair U.S. Rep. Judy Chu, House Democratic Caucus chair Rep. Joseph Crowley, House Democratic Caucus vice chair Rep. Linda T. Sanchez and California U.S. Rep. Barbara Lee, among others.
Additionally, in New Jersey, Gov. Phil Murphy held a Diwali celebration with prominent Indian American leaders at his home in Princeton, N.J. Among those attending the event were Consul General of India in New York Sandeep Chakravorty, state Attorney General Gurbir Singh Grewal, and Hoboken, N.J., Mayor Ravinder Bhalla.