Hindu-American culture has enriched US: Lawmakers at Congressional Diwali celebration

PTI, Oct 28, 2021, 7:49 AM IST

Image for representation

Hindu-American culture has enriched the United States and the world, US lawmakers said during the annual Diwali celebrations at the Congress.

”We have come a long way as a community where someone can easily say today as I do, that I am a proud Hindu-American, that I am proud of celebrating Diwali, that the Hindu-American culture has enriched America and the world,” Congressman Ro Khanna said.

Indiaspora, in association with a number of Indian-American organisations, have for the past several years been organising the festival of lights at the US Congress. The event is normally attended by a large number of lawmakers, members of the administration and eminent community leaders from across the country. Because of COVID-19 and restrictions on the number of attendees at an event, the celebration was restricted this year but was webcast live.

In his remarks, Khanna, a three-term Congressman, said his district in California has the largest Indian-American community in the country.

”With such a growing number of Indian-Americans serving in all facets of the government, it felt fitting that during Diwali, one of the most auspicious and celebrated occasions of the year, we recognise the service of these public servants in our community,” said M R Rangaswami, founder of Indiaspora.

The event included remarks from senior administration officials, including Neera Tanden, Senior Adviser to President Joe Biden who was recently named White House Staff Secretary and serves as the highest-ranking Indian-American woman in the administration after Vice President Kamala Harris, and Vice Admiral Vivek Murthy, US Surgeon General, who spoke about the inspiration behind Diwali.

”I think of Diwali as a time of sustenance … the food, the lights and a community event. To find sustenance in the things we grew up with which make us who we are today, and that is why the work of Indiaspora is important,” said Indian-American Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal.

”It’ time to run for office… we will be rooting for you and supportive of you. It doesn’t matter if you win or lose, it matters that you ran for the right reasons – to serve the community,” said Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi.

”As we close out 2021, I plan to introduce legislation that would further enshrine this day of light, Diwali, as a federal holiday,” said Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, who was instrumental in helping Indiaspora and community partners in their advocacy for a United States Postal Stamp commemorating Diwali which came to fruition in 2016.

”We should also take a moment to acknowledge that it’s not just elected officials that make a difference in public service, it’s also the many staff members who work in the offices in congress and in city halls and in state legislatures and school boards across the country,” said Congressman Joaquin Castro.

In a video message, Senator John Cornyn, Co-Chair of the Senate India Caucus, said he was proud to see how ties between the US and India have strengthened over the years.

Congressman Dr Ami Bera, the longest-serving Indian-American in Congress, also addressed the gathering.

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