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In an effort to outreach to the Asian American community, President Barack Obama ‘celebrated’ Diwali quietly by lighting a candle in the White House, paying homage to a festival celebrated by more than a billion people.
Diwali is short for deepawali, and it celebrates the triumph of good over evil, seeking light over darkness. According to Hindu mythology, it is the day that Lord Rama returned to his kingdom Ayodhya after slaying the evil king of Lanka, Ravana. During this five-day celebration, people play with fireworks, decorate their doorways with rangolis, light diyas, share sweets, worship and clean to start the year anew, hoping for more prosperity and good-luck.
Lisa Miller in Newsweek recently proclaimed that “we are all Hindus” now due to how most of us regard God, ourselves, our relationships and treatment of ‘eternity.’ The White House affirmation of Diwali is a policy aimed at facilitating the integration of immigrants and winning their loyalty by focusing on the positive acknowledgment of cultural difference. Still, some Hindu American leaders demand that America be defined as a pluralistic religious country, where many religious holidays are recognized, instead of a country that is based on Judeo-Christian values.
I will leave you with that thought while I go celebrate Diwali with mi familia.