India Post News Service

SACRAMENTO, California: Lieutenant Governor of California Eleni Kounalakis, Assemblymember Ash Kalra, Assemblymember Kansen Chu, Sumati Rao representing the Indian Consul General of India in San Francisco, members of the California Legislature and prominent Indian-Americans gathered to celebrate the Hindu festival of Diwali at the California State Capitol in Sacramento on October 29.

Built-in 1874, the California Capitol is one of the oldest statehouses in the country, and this was the first time in its history that a Diwali celebration was hosted there.

BAPS organized the historic day in conjunction with Assembly members Ash Kalra and Kansen Chu, according to a press statement. The festival was celebrated with an Annakut, an offering of traditional, vegetarian dishes to the sacred images of Hindu gods. Before the event, BAPS members visited the offices of State Senators and Assembly members to wish them a happy Diwali and distribute traditional Indian sweets to celebrate the Hindu New Year. During the celebration, State leaders highlighted the diversity of California, and the increasing role Indian-Americans play in the state.

Members of the Legislature who attended and spoke at the event included Assembly member Ash Kalra, Assembly member Kansen Chu, Senator Ling Ling Chang, minority leader of the California State Senate Shannon Grove, Senator Dr Richard Pan, and Assembly member Rebecca Bauer-Kahan.

Kalra, who is the first Indian-American elected to the State Legislature, narrated the historic significance of Diwali in his welcome address and recalled the experience of visiting Swaminarayan Akshardham, New Delhi, while leading a delegation of six legislators of California to India.

In her keynote address, Lieutenant Governor Kounalakis commended BAPS and Assembly member Kalra for organizing the first ever Diwali celebration at the State Capitol Building and promoting cultural diversity.

Senator Ling Ling Chang hoped that Diwali’s message of light over darkness, which is a unifying belief across all faiths, also inspire policymakers to strive for transparency by shining light on government activities. Rebecca Bauer-Kahan expressed her wish that this would be the first of many Diwali celebrations at the State Capitol.