• Saturday, March 02, 2024

US News

Capitol Hill joins Indian American community for Diwali

By: Kimberly Rodrigues

BAPS Public Affairs and several partner organisations, including the Hindu American Foundation (HAF), the Asian American Hotel Owners Association (AAHOA), Shrimad Rajchandra Mission Dharampur, Federation of Jain Associations in North America (JAINA), the American Jewish Committee (AJC), the U.S. Indian Community Foundation, the U.S. India Security Council Inc, and the Indian American Relations Council, gathered at Capitol Hill to commemorate Diwali.

Over 300 members of the Indian American community from across the United States assembled at the Dirksen Senate Office Building to join Congress members in the celebration, a press release from BAPS said.

Senators and U.S. Representatives in attendance included Sen. Cynthia Lummis (Wyoming), Rep. Deborah Ross (NC-02), Rep. Scott Perry (PA-10), Rep. Brad Sherman (CA-32), Rep. Ro Khanna (CA-17), Rep. Anna Paulina Luna (FL-13), Rep. Matt Cartwright (PA-08), Rep. Jim Costa (CA-21), Rep. Jen Kiggans (VA-02), Rep. Shri Thanedar (MI-13), Rep. Dan Meuser (PA-09), Rep. Brian K. Fitzpatrick (PA-01), Rep. Darin LaHood (IL-16), Rep. Donald Norcross (NJ-01), Rep. Steny Hoyer (MD-5), Rep. Maxwell Frost (FL-10), and Ohio State Senator Niraj Antani.

Also present were Roberts Peckar, Member of the Board of Governors of the American Jewish Committee, and Shri Jag Mohan, Minister of Community and Personnel at the Embassy of India.

Annakut at the Dirksen Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill

Diwali, recognised as the Festival of Lights, holds immense significance, and is observed vibrantly by Hindu, Jain, Sikh, and Buddhist communities worldwide.

Symbolising the triumph of good over evil, light over darkness, and knowledge over ignorance, Diwali is marked by lighting diyas (traditional lamps), preparing sumptuous meals, and praying for wisdom and prosperity.

Beyond fostering togetherness and gratitude, Diwali highlights cultural diversity and cherished traditions, resonating with millions globally.

Elected representatives present at the ceremony emphasised the critical role of diversity in their constituencies during the celebration. They stressed the profound impact of sharing cultural traditions like Diwali in strengthening community bonds and fostering understanding among diverse populations.

Indian-American Congressman Ro Khanna participated in the diya lighting ceremony, affirming, “The principles of Diwali – the triumph of good over evil, the triumph of righteousness, the importance of doing your duty, are good reminders to people of all faiths.”

Shri Jag Mohan in his address to the assembly said, “Celebration of this festival on Capitol Hill is not only a testament to the diversity and unity within our communities but it is also an opportunity to showcase the strength that comes from cultural preservation and understanding of the various communities.”

Representative Jim Costa (CA-21) (right), Representative Matt Cartwright-(PA-8) (center-and-Hindu-American Foundation Executive Director Suhag Shukla light the diya (right)

Suhag Shukla, Executive Director of the Hindu American Foundation said, “Diwali is a time to reflect on the good that is within each of us and to let its light shine through, allowing us to transcend our differences big and small, to alleviate the suffering of others, and to act with wisdom so that we can overcome the darkness of greed, hate, and violence.”

While Rep. Jim Costa remarked, “May the festival of lights inspire us to lift our communities with hope instead of despair and stand up for what’s right. That’s what Diwali is all about.”

The event served as a unifying platform to celebrate Diwali in the nation’s capital. Attendees had the opportunity to reflect on Diwali’s universal messages, raise awareness about the Indian American community, and foster interfaith harmony.

Additionally, interactions with Capitol Hill representatives enhanced the impact and significance of the event.

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