Today and tomorrow, mark a momentous occasion for Hindus, Jains, Sikhs, and some Buddhists across the world as they celebrate Diwali. Although different regions and religions differ, most Hindus historically believe that this was the day that Lord Ram returned to Ayodha after a 14 year exile; villagers and locals lined the streets with diyas or lights to welcome Ram. Today Diwali, also known as Deepavali, is the festival of lights that celebrates compassion for others, resisting evil & darkness, asking for forgiveness for wrong doings, practicing knowledge rather than ignorance and right over wrong.
Although Diwali isn’t until tomorrow (October 19, 2017) here in the States, President Trump decided to honor the accomplishments of Indian Americans in science, medicine, education and business. As a minority in the US, Indian Americans are the most socio-economically successful ethinicity and constitute about 1% of the total US population. Indo-Americans, also referred to as Asian Indians, are one of the fastest growing ethnic groups with a 69% increase between 2000 & 2010 Census. It is estimated that 10% of all physicians in this country are Indian, as many as 15% of Silicone Valley start-ups are founded by Indians, and Indians are one of the most educated ethnicities in the US with approximately 40% having post-graduate degrees (the national average is 11%).
Trump is shown above celebrating Diwali with former Governor of South Carolina and current US Ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, Seema Verma (administrator of the Centers of Medicare and Medicaid), Ajit Pai (Chairman of the US Federal Communications Commission), Shalabh Kumar (Republican Hindu Coalition founder), and Raj Shah (Deputy Assistant to the President and Principal Deputy Press Secretary).
While celebrating, Trump recognized the accomplishments of India-Americans, stating “You have made extraordinary contributions to art, science, medicine, business and education. America is especially thankful for its many Indian-American citizens who serve BRAVELY in our armed forces and as first responders in communities throughout our great land”. President Trump, even lit a diya in the Oval office to commemorate the occasion, an initiative started by former President Barak Obama. Historically, the first time Diwali was celebrated in the White House was during President George Bush’s term where a small ceremony was performed in the India Treaty Room.
To view the video of President Trump celebrating Diwali, play the video below.