Tulsi Chairperson

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard lighting the ceremonial lamp at the Diwali celebrations on Capitol Hill. (photo provided)

WASHINGTON — Tulsi Gabbard, the first Hindu lawmaker in Congress, has been named chairperson of the World Hindu Congress to be held in Chicago next year, organizers of the mega event announced Nov. 9.

Held once every four years, the WHC is a global platform for Hindus to connect, share ideas, inspire one another and impact the common good.

Organized by the World Hindu Foundation, the first Congress was held in New Delhi in 2014. The second WHC will take place in Chicago, Ill., Sept. 7-9 next year.

Hindus from across the world "would be able to come together, share ideas and inspire one another as we seek ways to positively impact the communities around us” and the world, Gabbard, 36, said.

The three-term Democratic Congresswoman from Hawaii is currently the co-chair of the House Congressional Caucus.

"With all that's happening in the world, the universal message of aloha – love, peace, respect and unity is so needed. I am looking forward to working with you and seeing you soon," Gabbard said in a video message to the organizers.

Abhaya Asthana, coordinator of WHC, said that the organizing committee was looking for a recognized leader who is courageous, bold, principled, progressive, accomplished, articulate and above all a practicing Hindu.

"Undoubtedly, she brings with her all these attributes and more," Asthana said.

"We are thrilled to have her on the team and look forward to working with her for a successful World Hindu Congress 2018," Asthana said.

Gabbard is an Iraq war veteran and a member of the powerful House Foreign Relations Committee.

The inaugural WHC held in November 2014 saw the participation of 1800 delegates from 53 countries.

In related news, Rep. Gabbard delivered opening remarks and lit the ceremonial lamp at the annual Diwali celebration on Capitol Hill. The congresswoman spoke about the unifying message of Diwali to people of all religions and backgrounds, as well as the lessons it holds in overcoming challenges and divisions with love, respect, and understanding.

“Diwali is celebrated all across the country and around the world by billions of people, “ she said, adding, “Diwali is observed not only as a time to spend with friends and loved ones, but also as a time to celebrate the victory of light over darkness, truth over untruth and righteousness over wrong. It is a time of spiritual renewal, and honors self-awareness, righteousness, and service to others before self—values that transcend different religions, backgrounds, and differences. As we gather for the beautiful Festival of Lights this year, we reflect on the opportunity each of us has to overcome our differences with one another and find ways to be of service to others. This is the heart of our celebrations during Diwali, and also what we know in Hawai‘i as the aloha spirit.”

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