Obama wanted to celebrate Diwali with Indians: White House

Barack Obama, who became the first US president to personally celebrate Diwali in the historic East Room in 2009, wanted to "specifically" celebrate the festival of lights with Indians, the White House has said.

Last Updated: Nov 03, 2010, 14:08 PM IST

Washington: Barack Obama, who became the first US president to personally celebrate Diwali in the historic East Room in 2009, wanted to "specifically" celebrate the festival of lights with Indians, the White House has said.

"He (Obama) specifically wanted to have an opportunity
to celebrate Diwali and to do so with the Indian people,
getting beyond simply his official business," Jeff Bader,
Senior Director for Asia Affairs at the National Security
Council, White House, said.

Bader and other top US officials were responding to
questions at "Tuesday Talks at the White House", a live web
cast from the White House on the forthcoming 10-day Asia trip
of the US President.

Commencing his four-day trip to India, Obama arrives
along with first lady Michelle Obama in Mumbai on November 6,
a day after Diwali, and are scheduled to visit a school in the
city on the following day.
At that school, he will participate in a Diwali
celebration, which includes lighting a lantern. And then the
President will have an opportunity to watch some
schoolchildren perform a cultural dance associated with it,
Bader said.
"So he`ll have the opportunity to celebrate Diwali
with these schoolchildren in Mumbai specifically, and with the
Indian people more broadly," the official said.

"Last year we were very excited to host the Diwali
event, a celebration here at the White House, underscoring
again the importance of the festival as a wonderful holiday,"
he said, referring to last year`s Diwali celebrations here.

PTI