NEW YORK: Hosting a Diwali reception at the White House, which was attended by more than 200 prominent Indian-Americans, US President Joe Biden thanked the community for making the festival of lights a joyous part of the American culture.
More than a billion Hindus, Jains, Sikhs, and Buddhists celebrated the festival of lights in the US, India, and around the world on October 24.
“We are honoured to host you. This is the first Diwali reception of this scale in the White House ever to be held. We have more Asian-Americans than ever before in history and we want to thank you for making the Diwali celebration a joyous part of American culture,” Biden said while addressing the Indian-origin community at the East Room on Monday.
With a population of more than 4.5 million, Indian Americans make up 1.4% of the US population and are the largest group of South Asian-Americans.
Biden, along with First Lady Jill Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, thanked the South Asian community across America for their optimism, courage, and empathy. “Together, South Asian Americans reflect the soul of who we are as a nation, whether helping us emerge stronger from this pandemic, building an economy that works for everyone, or serving and protecting our communities and our country,” Biden said.
A record 130 Indian-Americans are in key positions of Biden administration — the best representation from the community that makes up around 1 per cent of the American population.
Biden also shared his picture on Twitter lighting the lamp at the White House with a message that “Diwali is a reminder that each of us has the power to dispel darkness and bring light to the world”.
“This Diwali, may we remember that from darkness there is power in the gathering of light. That the American story depends not on any one of us, but on all of us,” the President tweeted. “To those celebrating and connecting with one another during this festival of lights: Happy Diwali,” he added.
The Bidens called the reception the largest since the People’s House started celebrating the festival during the George Bush administration. The reception was also marked by cultural events, including performances by sitarist Rishab Sharma and dance troupe The Sa Dance Company.