On November 15, 2023, BAPS Public Affairs and multiple partner organizations, including the Hindu American Foundation (HAF), the Asian American Hotel Owners Association (AAHOA), Shrimad Rajchandra Mission Dharampur, Federation of Jain Associations in North America (JAINA), the American Jewish Committee (AJC), the U.S. Indian Community Foundation, the U.S. India Security Council Inc, and the Indian American Relations Council convened on Capitol Hill to celebrate Diwali. Over 300 members of the Indian American community from across the United States gathered at the Dirksen Senate Office Building, joining members of Congress in the celebration.
Senators and U.S. Representatives that attended the celebration included Sen. Cynthia Lummis (Wyoming), Rep. Deborah Ross (NC-02), Rep. Scott Perry (PA-10), Rep. Brad Sherman (CA-32), Rep. Ro Khanna (CA-17), Rep. Anna Paulina Luna (FL-13), Rep. Matt Cartwright (PA-08), Rep. Jim Costa (CA-21), Rep. Jen Kiggans (VA-02), Rep. Shri Thanedar (MI-13), Rep. Dan Meuser (PA-09), Rep. Brian K. Fitzpatrick (PA-01), Rep. Darin LaHood (IL-16), Rep. Donald Norcross (NJ-01), Rep. Steny Hoyer (MD-5), Rep. Maxwell Frost (FL-10), and Ohio State Senator Niraj Antani. Also in attendance were Roberts Peckar, Member of the Board of Governors of the American Jewish Committee, and Shri Jag Mohan, Minister of Community & Personnel at the Embassy of India.
Diwali, also known as the Festival of Lights, is a vibrant celebration widely observed in India by Hindu, Jain, Sikh and Buddhist communities around the world. This festival symbolizes the triumph of good over evil, light over darkness and knowledge over ignorance. Diwali is celebrated by lighting diyas, or traditional lamps to illuminate homes, prepare delicious meals, and pray for wisdom and prosperity. Diwali not only fosters a sense of togetherness and gratitude but also showcases the rich cultural diversity and traditions that make it a cherished holiday for millions of people around the world.
Elected representatives present at the celebration passionately emphasized the vital role of diversity in their constituencies. They underscored the profound impact of sharing cultural traditions and celebrations, like Diwali, in promoting a deeper understanding, fortifying community strength, and building connections among diverse populations.
Indian-American Congressman Ro Khanna joined in the diya lighting and shared his remarks on Diwali, “The principles of Diwali – the triumph of good over evil, the triumph of righteousness, the importance of doing your duty – are good reminders to people of all faiths.”
“Celebration of this festival on Capitol Hill is not only a testament to the diversity and unity within our communities but it is also an opportunity to showcase the strength that comes from cultural preservation and understanding of the various communities,” shared Shri Jag Mohan in his address to the assembly.
“May the festival of lights inspire us to lift our communities with hope instead of despair and stand up for what is right. That is what Diwali is all about,” remarked Rep. Jim Costa on the spirit of the celebration.
The event was a unifying opportunity to celebrate Diwali in the U.S. capital, where attendees had the chance to reflect on the universal messages of Diwali, while also increasing awareness about the Indian American community and interfaith harmony. Additionally, attendees had valuable interactions with representatives on Capitol Hill, enhancing the impact and significance of the event.