Lighting the Diya with the President
The immigrants who came here in the 60’s would never have believed it if you had told them that one day an American President would be wishing them ‘Saal Mubarak!” and the US Surgeon General would be munching on mithais and would have a last name Murthy, first name Vivek!
Diwali Sweets Make it to the White House
As Indian-Americans celebrate Diwali, there’s a special thrill in being wished by the President, and having this much-loved festival acknowledged from the White House. It’s also great to have Dr. Vivek Murthy as the US Surgeon General. Always watching out for our health, in a light-hearted video, he reaches out for a mithai, and says “Sweets for Diwali? Everything in moderation! Happy Diwali! ”
Dr. Vivek H. Murthy is the 19th Surgeon General of the United States and serves as Co-Chair of the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. Here is his message on the occasion of Diwali.
“I join President Obama in wishing you and your families a very happy Diwali and extend my best wishes for health, prosperity and happiness in the New Year!
In 2009, President Obama lit the Diwali diya (oil lamp) before signing Executive Order 13515 to reestablish the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. The lighting of the diya honors the rich heritage and ancient traditions of Hindus, Jains, Sikhs and Buddhists in the United States and around the world. On this moonless night, we light lamps to celebrate the triumph of good over evil, to fill the darkness with the light of our common humanity. In hundreds of languages and across multiple faith traditions, we offer prayers for the unity of mankind, for peace in our world and in ourselves.
These traditions of honoring diversity and mindfulness are especially relevant to our work at the White House Initiative on AAPIs. By shedding light on issues that affect our dynamic AAPI population, we seek to improve the health and well-being of our communities and our nation. As we light our diyas this year, we consciously recommit ourselves to serving our country by ensuring that all Americans – and our neighbors around the world – have the opportunities to live our best lives.
Once again, I wish all of who are celebrating this festival of lights a very Happy Diwali and Sal Mubarak!”
Below is the transcript of the President’s video message:
Hi, everybody. On behalf of the entire Obama family, I want to wish you and your families—across America and around the world—a happy Diwali as you celebrate the festival of lights.
I’ve been proud to host Diwali celebrations at the White House—and be the first President to light the Diya in 2009. When Michelle and I visited India, we were able to join in Diwali festivities with some wonderful children in Mumbai. It was a reminder of the traditions we share, across continents and cultures.
Today, Hindus, Jains, Sikhs and Buddhists – some of the world’s oldest religions – light the Diya with family and friends. You celebrate life’s blessings — the triumph of knowledge over ignorance and good over evil. But Diwali is also a time for prayer and contemplation, to reflect on our obligations to help our fellow human beings, particularly the less fortunate.
So on this Diwali, I wish everyone celebrating the holiday across America and around the world a joyous celebration. Saal Mubarak.