Diwali Greetings from the White House and Congress

US President Barack Obama kindling a Diya (lamp) in the Oval Office of the White House

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Washington, DC – US President Barack Obama kindled a lamp in the Oval Office of the White House, wishing all, “who are celebrating the festival of lights across America and around the world, happy Diwali.”

In a statement issued by the White House, President Obama said, “This year, I was honored to kindle the first-ever diya in the Oval Office – a lamp that symbolizes how darkness will always be overcome by light. It is a tradition that I hope future Presidents will continue.”

The president continued, “As Hindus, Jains, Sikhs, and Buddhists light the diya, share in prayers, decorate their homes, and open their doors to host and feast with loved ones, we recognize that this holiday rejoices in the triumph of good over evil and knowledge over ignorance. It also speaks to a broader truth about our shared American experience. It’s a reminder of what’s possible when we see beyond the differences that too often divide us. It’s a reflection of the hopes and dreams that bind us together. And it’s a time to renew our collective obligation to deepen those bonds, to stand in each other’s shoes and see the world through each other’s eyes, and to embrace each other as brothers and sisters – and as fellow Americans.”

President Obama concluded, “On behalf of the entire Obama family, I wish you and your loved ones peace and happiness on this Diwali.”

Commemorating the festival, Congressman Joe Crowley, Vice Chair of the Democratic Caucus, said in a statement, “Happy Diwali! I send my very best wishes to all those celebrating this joyous festival, both here in the US and around the globe. Diwali is a time for reflection and renewal, and it is a time for peace. As people from many backgrounds come together to celebrate Diwali, let us all be reminded of the important message of setting aside our differences and working together as one. Saal Mubarak to all.”

Earlier in October, the United States Postal Services (USPS) under the Obama Administration dedicated the Diwali Forever stamp and held a first-day-of-issue dedication ceremony at the Consulate General of India in New York City.

“The Postal Service is honored to issue this Forever stamp that celebrates the Festival of Diwali,” said USPS Vice President of Mail Entry and Payment Technology Pritha Mehra. “We hope these stamps will light up millions of cards and letters as they make their journey through the mailstream.”

Wishing all best of festivities, the only Indian American Congressman Ami Bera, said, “This year, nearly two million Indian Americans and roughly a billion people around the world will celebrate Diwali. Earlier this year, I was pleased that the United States Postal Service has issued a commemorative stamp in recognition of Diwali. I look forward to continuing to celebrate the contributions of the Indian American community, and wish everyone a happy Diwali!”

“While this journey may have taken years, the Postal Service has issued a Diwali stamp that will continue to resonate forever,” said Diwali Stamp Project Chair Ranju Batra. “Now for the first time there is a stamp that celebrates Hindus, Sikhs, Jains and Buddhists as Americans forever. Our heartfelt thanks to all of those who have supported this stamp. The Diwali stamp will be a matter of pride for generations to come,” she added.

Ravi Batra, National Advisory Council South Asian Affairs, and emcee of the first-day-of-issue dedication ceremony noted, “The Diwali Forever stamp represents nothing short of respectful inclusive indivisibility: E Pluribus Unum — within America and between two sovereigns.”

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