President George W. Bush has sent greetings to Hindus in the U.S. and around the world for the festival of Diwali.
In a White House press statement Thursday, Bush said that by "marking the beginning of the Hindu New Year, Diwali provides an opportunity to give thanks for the renewal of life, reflect on lessons learned, and anticipate future blessings.
"By celebrating their beliefs, ancestry, and culture, Hindus in America and around the world enrich communities and ensure that important values and customs are passed on to future generations."
He said: "Laura joins me in sending our best wishes for a joyous Diwali. May the coming year be filled with hope and happiness."
Overjoyed Indian Americans said perhaps this was the first time a U.S. president had acknowledged Diwali as a festival that celebrates the culture and ancestry of the Hindus. The festival will be observed across the world on October 25.
Many of them had earlier complained that Bush remembers every festival and sends greetings on the occasion of Eid, Hanukkah and Christmas, but has not been able to say anything on Diwali, the most important festival observed by Hindus.
But with a bit of lobbying and letter writing, Indian Americans have triumphed in their quest for recognition of Diwali as the festival of the Hindus.