Barack Obama celebrated Diwali by lighting the ceremonial lamp at the White House amidst chanting of Vedic mantras seeking world peace, becoming the first US President to personally grace the occasion.
"I think it's fitting that we begin this work in the week leading up to the holiday of Diwali - the festival of lights - when members of some of the world's greatest faiths celebrate the triumph of good over evil," Obama said in his remarks on the occasion at a White House function held at its historic East Room on Wednesday.
This is for the first time that a US President attended and celebrated Diwali at the White House - thus giving an official recognition to the festival of lights celebrated across the world by millions of Hindus, Sikhs and Jains.
US President Barack Obama shakes hands with Hindu priest Narayanachar Digalakote after lighting an oil lamp during Diwali celebrations October 14, 2009 in the East Room of the White House in Washington, DC. Diwali, the festival of lights, is observed by Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists and others in southern Asia. Diwali celebrates the victory of good over evil in the individual.
"This coming Saturday, Hindus, Jains, Sikhs and some Buddhists, here in America and around the world, will celebrate this holiday by lighting 'Diyas', or lamps, which symbolise the victory of light over darkness, and knowledge over ignorance," Obama said.
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