For Hindus, Sikhs, Jains and Buddhists in the United States, an epochal event transpired at the White House afternoon that should not slip notice.
Lead me from darkness to light.
Lead me from death to immortality.
(from the Brhadaranyaka Upanishad -- I.iii.28)
As the ethereal sounds of a Hindu priest's chanting of this Sanskrit prayer from ancient Hindu scripture filled the East Room, President Obama lit the ceremonial White House diya --and he used this Sanskrit word for lamp--with dozens of Asian, Indian and Hindu Americans in attendance. Never before had a sitting U.S. President personally celebrated the Diwali holiday, and with that one gesture, two million Hindu Americans felt a bit more like they belonged--one more reason to feel at home. Maybe that cliche' that all of our diversity adds unique patches to the American quilt is not as tired as we thought.
Diwali is among the most widely celebrated festivals in India and spans all of the Dharmic religious traditions. Rows of diyas, or earthen lamps, line the homes of celebrants as prayers are offered, and for many, a New Year on Hindu calendars is marked. For the seeker, the spiritual significance is clear: the lamps symbolize the quest for knowledge and goodness that mimics the inner Divine and eradicates the darkness of ignorance and false values. As the President said in his address, of course, one does not forget the joyous merriment Diwali celebrations entail: fireworks light up the dark skies of a new moon night, gifts are exchanged and sweets savored
Jains mark the holiday as a time of contemplation when the last of their Tirthankaras, the great teachers of dharma, attained liberation. Sikhs celebrate Diwali as the day that their sixth founding Guru, or teacher, was released from the captivity of a Mughal emperor five centuries ago.
The White House Diwali celebration tradition began during the George W. Bush Administration. And while the day was always a boisterous affair, despite years of requests, President Bush never attended the event, consigning the task to cabinet members or close assistants. But for President Obama, hope was high that he would attend the event this year--and he delivered.
THIS TIME ME REALLY IMPRAISED WITH THE KINDNESS OF MR. OBAMA .HE SHOWS THAT WHY HE DESERVE FOR ALWAYS BEST AND NOBEL PRIZE.
AKHIR AISE HI KISI KO SHANTI KA DUT NAHI KAHA JATA..HEY PPLZ WHAT DO U THINK PLZ COMMENTS AND TELL ME ..ABOUT UR THOUGHTS