Obama Celebrates Diwali At White House

October 22, 2009

Author: Staff Writer

Source: India West


Surrounded by Indian Ambassador Meera Shanker, visiting Indian Minister of Commerce Anand Sharma and prominent Indian Americans from around the country, President Barack Obama celebrated Diwali Oct. 14 at the White House, using the occasion to sign an executive order establishing a White House advisory panel on Asian Americans and Pacific Islander community. 

The commission, which was created by a White House initiative signed by former President Bill Clinton ten years ago, will be comprised of 20 members from a wide range of government agencies, and will be directed to conduct a two-year study of how to assist Asian Americans.

As the first American president to celebrate Diwali in the East Room of the White House, Obama lit a ceremonial lamp while Pandit Narayanacharya Digalakote from the Sri Shiva Vishnu temple in Maryland chanted Vedic mantras seeking world peace.

"I think it's fitting that we begin this work in the week leading up to the holiday of Diwali - the festival of lights - when members of some of the world's greatest faiths celebrate the triumph of good over evil," Obama told the gathering.