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Diwali Wishes From President Obama


Diwali Wishes From President Obama

Posted by Kalpen Modi

On October 14th, President Obama observed the auspicious holiday of Diwali, or festival of lights, in the East Room of the White House. The occasion marked the first time that an American President has observed the holiday. Sri Narayanachar Digalakote, a Sanskrit scholar and ordained Hindu priest of the Sri Siva Vishnu Temple in Lantham, Maryland chanted Asatoma Sadgamaya from the Upanishads while the President lit the White House diya.

In addition to the observance, the President signed a White House Initiative reestablishing the Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. The University of Pennsylvania acapella group Penn Masala opened the ceremony with a multilingual performance of the song “Aicha.” Shekar Narasimhan and the Temple provided sweets to attendees, who included folks from the Asian American and Pacific Islander communities, members of Congress, and dignitaries; included in the audience were Wat Misaka, the NBA’s first non-white basketball player (New York Knicks) who also served in World War Two, fusion music artist DJ Rekha, Vinai Thummalapally (US Ambassador to Belize), and Indian Ambassador to the United States, Meera Shankar.

In addition to the East Room observance, President Obama has also extended his holiday wishes through a video, which you can watch here:

download .mp4 (42 MB)

Kalpen Modi is an Associate Director in the Office of Public Engagement


  1. chandravadan
    October 18, 2009 at 11:19 pm

    THIS IS the BEST THING that happened from WHITEHOUSE ! My Salutations to President Obama for the Regognition given to this Celebration & the INDIAN COMMUNITY at Large !…CHANDRAVADAN MISTRY ( Chandrapukar)

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