Barack Obama, who became the first US President to celebrate Diwali in the White House, has won praise from the Indian-American community which said that his gesture demonstrated his commitment towards diversity and inclusiveness.
"It is indeed a historic occasion. All the credit should be given to Obama for officially bringing Diwali to the White
House," said Shambhu Banik, an eminent Indian-American leader based in Bethesda, Maryland.
Though it was the Bush Administration which started the practice of celebrating Diwali, the event always took place in
the Indian Treaty Room in a building annexed to the White House.
Bush himself never attended the Diwali function, which was always graced by a senior member of the administration and
Indian-American community members were invited to the occasion.
On Wednesday, Obama gave a global dimension to Diwali by inviting people from across various faiths and Asian
countries. At least half a dozen members of his Cabinet along with almost all the Indian-Americans in his administration
attended the Diwali function held in the historic East Room of the White House.
Obama himself lit the traditional 'diya' amidst chanting of Vedic mantras.