United States President Donald Trump would celebrate Diwali in his Oval Office next Tuesday, the White House has said. "The President will be celebrating Diwali with a ceremonial lighting of the diya (lamp) in the Oval Office next Tuesday," Deputy Assistant to the president Raj Shah said in a statement on Thursday.
A day earlier Trump had greeted people celebrating the festival of lights the world over and said it is a special opportunity to reflect on the bond of friendship between India and the United States.
Trump said First Lady Melania joins him in sending their best wishes for a very happy and memorable Diwali.
He also recognised the "extraordinary" contributions of Indian-Americans in the development of the United States.
"We recognize the extraordinary contributions of Indian-Americans to the strength and success of our nation. Their achievements in business and industry, public service, education, scientific research, and other fields continue to represent the very best of our American virtues and the spirit of the Diwali season," said Trump, who had celebrated Diwali last year by lighting the ceremonial lamp in the Oval Office.
Asserting that Diwali is a joyous and spiritual time marked by Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, and Buddhists, Trump said lighting of lamps on the occasion symbolises the true meaning of Diwali, which is triumph of light over darkness and good over evil.
Republican National Committee (RNC) chairperson Ronna McDaniel also greeted people celebrating Diwali.
"We wish you and your family and friends a meaningful celebration of the victory of light over darkness. We at the RNC will continue to honour the traditions of diverse communities that enrich and strengthen our country," she said.
Earlier this week, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had said nearly a billion people from around the world will light the lamp "as a reminder that good ultimately overcomes evil, understanding over ignorance, and kindness over animosity".
"As those celebrating decorate their homes with vibrant lights, I would also like to recognise the achievements of our friends in the United States observing Diwali who make important contributions to our country on a daily basis," he had said.
Top American lawmakers also joined Trump in extending Diwali greetings.
"Wishing a very happy Diwali to everyone around the world celebrating the Festival of Lights!" said Senator Mark Warner, the Co-Chair of the Senate India Caucus.
"These lights are physical, including lanterns, candles, and fireworks, but for those who light the flames, they hold a deeper meaning. Diwali celebrates awareness of one's inner light and light's triumph over darkness. It celebrates goodness over evil and hope over despair," Senator John Cornyn, the Co-Chair of the Senate India Caucus, said.
Indian American lawmaker Raja Krishnamoorthi said, "Happy Diwali to those celebrating the Festival of Lights today, which commemorates the victory of good over evil and illumination of knowledge."
Congressman John Sarbanes said the festival of lights serves as an important reminder for all that love and light will always prevail over hate and darkness, and that knowledge and reason will invariably overcome intolerance and ignorance.
Indian American Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal said, "Happy Diwali to the millions around the world celebrating the Festival of Lights! What a beautiful reminder that light prevails over darkness and that goodness will guide us toward a better future."
Congressman Derek Kilmer said, "Diwali is a celebration of our shared aspirations for the world: The triumph of light over darkness. As millions come together to celebrate this holiday, let's join them in striving to embrace the values of Diwali in our politics & our communities."
Tulsi Gabbard, the first Hindu elected to the House of Representatives, in a video message said Diwali is such a special time of year where people all over the world are coming together to light their lamps in honour the return of Lord Ram to His kingdom after many years in exile, and celebrate the victory of light over darkness, good over evil, and knowledge over ignorance.