White House celebrates Diwali

The White House celebrates Diwali, the Indian festival of lights, with more than 150 guests attending, among them prominent members of the Indo-American community.

india Updated: Oct 20, 2006 15:07 IST

The White House celebrated Diwali, the Indian festival of lights, with more than 150 guests attending, among them many prominent members of the Indian American community.

Karen Hughes, under secretary of state for public diplomacy and public affairs, inaugurated the festivities at a special White House ceremony Thursday.

In his special message to the Indian community, President George W. Bush said: "Every year during Diwali, Hindus remember their many blessings and celebrate their hope for a brighter future. The festival of lights demonstrates the rich history and traditions of the Hindu faith as friends and family come together in a spirit of love and joy.

"This celebration unites people around the world in goodwill and reminds us of the many cultures that enrich our nation."

At the gathering, Hughes reminded guests about the contribution made by the Indian American community to the economic and political well being of the US, according to usinfo.state.gov.

Traditional Indian food was one of the major highlights of the celebrations.

Diwali was first celebrated in the White House in 2003 following a long-standing demand by the Indian community.

As a goodwill gesture, the White House marks the national days or special occasions of each community - Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Sikh and others who form the mosaic of America's multi-racial society.

In 2005, the Indian American community became the second largest Asian community in the US with a population of 2.3 million, and a growth rate of 38 percent, the highest for any Asian-American community.

First Published: Oct 20, 2006 15:07 IST