Friday, September 29, 2023

Indian Americans mark the holiday of Diwali


Many Indian Americans, including Vice President Kamala Harris, celebrated Diwali yesterday, the annual festival of lights that celebrates joy, happiness, love, prosperity, and the triumph of good over evil.

“Originally Diwali was celebrated as a harvest festival in India,” writes Shaan Bhatia in The Mirror student newspaper at Van Nuys High School in California, “but today Diwali is celebrated as the Festival of Lights by people all over the world.”

Perhaps the most well-known outward sign of a Diwali celebration is the illumination of the interior and exterior of homes with diyas, or traditional, decorative oil lamps. But even though this is very much a universal sign, the holiday represents different things to Indians in different religions, he notes. The holiday includes five days of prayer and religious rituals dedicated to certain gods and goddesses.

“It is our honor to be the first president and first lady to light a diya together in the White House to celebrate Diwali, the Festival of Lights that is observed by more than one billion Hindus, Jains, Sikhs, and Buddhists in the United States, India, and around the world,” President Jow Biden and his wife Jill said in a joint statement.

“May the spirit of Diwali remind us that out of darkness there is light in knowledge, wisdom, and truth,” they continued. “From division, there is unity in common bonds of empathy and compassion. From isolation, there is community in the connections we share as we look out for one another and hope, dream, and believe in possibilities.”

Paul Katula
Paul Katula is the executive editor of the Voxitatis Research Foundation, which publishes this blog. For more information, see the About page.

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