WASHINGTON DC, October 2013 (The Hindu): The first -ever Diwali festival was celebrated at the U.S. Congress on Tuesday amidst chanting of Vedic mantras by a Hindu priest. Over two dozen influential lawmakers along with eminent Indian-Americans gathered at the Capitol Hill to lit the traditional "diyas."
The event--the first of its kind event at the Capitol Hill--was organised by the two Co-Chairs of the Congressional Caucus on India and Indian Americans, Congressmen Joe Crowley and Peter Roskam in recognition of increasing presence of the Indian-American community.
"I have come here to say Happy Diwali," said Nancy Pelosi, Leader of the Democratic Party in the House of Representatives. "United States owes a great debt of gratitude to India. Our civil rights movement was built on the nonviolent movement in India. Martin Luther King studied there, spoke there. We are blessed not only by that legacy, but also by the presence of so many Indo-Americans in our country," Pelosi said.
Roskam said Indian Americans are an example of an enormous diaspora that is incredibly influential. "You have the ability to bring together people from both sides of the isle in ways that are powerful and significant," he said.
"When we look at the relationship between the United States and India moving forward it is a wonderful relationship that has a great thing in store," said Roskam, who along with other lawmakers were welcomed at the historic event with red tilak, jasmine garland. A Hindu priest presented them a traditional shawl amidst chanting of Vedic mantras.
Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, the first Hindu American lawmaker, said, "Diwali is celebration of righteousness."
Ami Bera, who is the only Indian American in the current Congress, said this was an incredible Diwali celebration. "It is great to be one Indian American in the Congress, but at our second, fifth Diwali celebration, we want to see more members of the Diaspora elected to the House of Representatives. We want to see deepening of this relationship as we move forward," Bera said.