Diwali Celebration Honoring Indian Americans in Public Service

This Diwali season, we recognized the trailblazing contributions of public servants who have dedicated themselves to government service and the greater good.

In the spirit of the holiday, we hosted a Diwali Celebration Honoring Indian Americans in Public Service in Washington, DC, on October 26th from 5 pm on Capitol Hill in Rayburn House Office Building, Reception Rooms 2043 – 2045.

Host:

Indiaspora, a nonprofit organization, is a network of global Indian origin leaders from diverse backgrounds and professions who are committed to inspiring the diaspora to be a force for good by providing a platform to collaborate, build community engagement, and catalyze social change.

Community Partners:

AllAmericanDiwali.org is part of the nonprofit South Asian Engagement Foundation where the iconic One World Trade Center will come alive for #AllAmericanDiwali Nov 2 – 4, 2021

Art of Living Foundation is a nonprofit organization dedicated to creating a stress-free, violence-free society through breathwork, meditation, and community service

The Association of Indian Muslims of America (AIM), is a non-profit working for the welfare of Indian Muslims and India, founded in 1985 in Washington DC.

Dharma Into Action Foundation (DhIA) connects over 11 million US residents belonging to the 4 major religions that originated in India (Hindu, Jain, Buddhist, and Sikh) to increase their engagement in social and civic service, education, and the arts.

The Global Indian-Jewish Relations Institute (GIJRI) chaired by Dr. Bharat H. Barai facilitates partnerships between the Jewish & Indian Diaspora communities primarily in the United States with plans to expand to Canada, UK & Australia in the near future.

The Hindu American Foundation is an education and advocacy organization promoting the wellbeing of all people and the planet.

The Indian American Impact Project is a national 501(c)(3) organization working to advance the civil rights of South Asian communities, and those of every American. We’re working to engage South Asians in our nation’s civic process, and ensure our diaspora’s history and lived experience are recognized as essential to the fabric of America.

JAINA is an acronym for the Federation of Jain Associations in North America, an umbrella organization of 70 Jain Centers representing 150,000 members in the USA and Canada; with a mission to preserve, practice, and promote Jain Dharma and Jain Way of Life.

The Jain Society of Metropolitan Washington was established in March 1980 with the objective of promoting a better understanding and following of Jain principles, preserving our rich heritage, and passing it on to our next generation.

The U.S.-India Business Council is dedicated to strengthening the U.S.-India relationship by inspiring sustainable solutions to local and global business challenges.

Confirmed speakers included:

  • Vice Admiral Surgeon General Vivek Murthy
  • Neera Tanden, Senior Advisor and Staff Secretary to President Joe Biden 
  • Congressman James Clyburn, House Majority Whip 
  • Congressman Steve Chabot, Co-Chair of House India Caucus 
  • Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal, Chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus 
  • Congressman Ro Khanna, Vice-Chair of House India Caucus 
  • Congresswoman Judy Chu, Chair of Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus
  • Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi, U.S. Representative from Illinois 
  • Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, U.S. Representative from New York 
  • Congressman Al Green, U.S. Representative from Texas
  • Congressman Ami Bera, U.S. Representative
  • Congressman Tim Ryan, U.S. Representative 
  • Congressman Joaquin Castro, U.S Representative

Watch the live stream of the event below (audio begins at 38 minute mark):

 

For more information about the event, please email contact@indiaspora.org

For press release and photos, please see below.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 

                      Indiaspora Hosts Diwali Celebration Honoring Indian Americans in Public Service

Washington, DC – October 26, 2021– Indiaspora, a nonprofit organization of global Indian diaspora leaders, hosted a Diwali celebration with several community partners in the U.S. Capitol Rayburn House Office Building to honor Indian Americans who have been elected, appointed, and nominated to public office, as well as staffers on Capitol Hill, for their contributions to government service.

“With such a growing number of Indian Americans serving in all facets of government, it felt fitting that during Diwali, one of the most auspicious and celebrated occasions of the year, we recognize the seva, or service, of these public servants in our community,” said MR Rangaswami, Founder of Indiaspora.

The event included remarks from Senior Administration officials, including Neera Tanden, Senior Adviser to President Joe Biden, who was recently named White House Staff Secretary, and serves as the highest ranking Indian American woman in the Administration after Vice President Kamala Harris, as well as Vice Admiral Vivek Murthy, U.S. Surgeon General, who spoke about the inspiration behind Diwali.

“The fundamental lesson of Diwali is to recognize and remember our light and the light within others, and to focus on that. That is our charge today, in a world that has been turned upside down by this pandemic as well as a growing pandemic of polarization,” said Dr. Vivek Murthy.

All four members of Congress of Indian heritage, including the longest serving Indian American in Congress Rep. Ami Bera; Vice Chair of the India Caucus in the House of Representatives Rep. Ro Khanna; Rep. Pramila Jayapal, the first Indian American woman elected to the House of Representatives; and Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi all spoke about what Diwali meant to them, and their call to public service.

Other Members of Congress also spoke about the significance of the holiday.

“As we close out 2021, I plan to introduce legislation that would further enshrine this day of light, Diwali, as a federal holiday,” said Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, who was instrumental in helping Indiaspora and community partners in their advocacy for a United States Postal Stamp commemorating Diwali which came to fruition in 2016.

The program included a diya lighting ceremony with the speakers and remarks from several elected and appointed leaders in the federal government. Featured guests included:

  • Vice Admiral Surgeon General Vivek Murthy
  • Neera Tanden, Senior Advisor and Staff Secretary to President Joe Biden 
  • Congressman James Clyburn, House Majority Whip (SC-6) 
  • Congressman Steve Chabot, U.S. Representative and Co-Chair of House India Caucus (OH-1)
  • Congressman Ami Bera, U.S. Representative (CA-7)
  • Congressman Ro Khanna, U.S. Representative and Vice Chair of House India Caucus (CA-17)
  • Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal, U.S Representative (WA-7)
  • Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi, U.S. Representative (IL-8) 
  • Congresswoman Judy Chu, Chair of Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CA-27)
  • Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, U.S. Representative (NY-12)
  • Congressman Al Green, U.S. Representative (TX-9)
  • Congressman Tim Ryan, U.S. Representative (OH-13)
  • Congressman Joaquin Castro, U.S. Representative (TX-20)

“We are honored to celebrate Diwali on Capitol Hill and share our traditions with the leaders who have dedicated themselves to serve the public. The Indian diaspora has had a profound impact in American society, and their diverse contributions continue to strengthen our nation,” said Sanjeev Joshipura, Executive Director of Indiaspora, who served as emcee for the evening.

Diwali, known as the Festival of Lights, is celebrated by several faiths across the world, and is often seen as an occasion to usher in a new year or new beginnings. This year’s program began with an interfaith prayer led by several community partners, which brought together different religions, including Hindu, Jain and Buddhist faiths.

Actress and singer Mary Millben, a Helen Hayes Award Nominee and recording artist, performed “Om Jai Jagdish Hare,” inviting the audience to sing together.

Several fellow community partners joined Indiaspora to celebrate Diwali and the positive spirit of service that accompanies it.

For additional quotes from the speakers tonight, please see below.

To watch a livestream of the program, please visit here: YouTube (audio begins at 38 minute mark).

For photos from the event, please visit here.

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About Indiaspora: 

Indiaspora (www.indiaspora.org) is a nonprofit community of powerful global Indian leaders from diverse backgrounds and professions who are committed to inspiring the diaspora to be a force for positive impact by providing a platform to collaborate, engage, and catalyze social change.

Additional quotes from speakers at the event:

“We have come a long way as a community where someone can easily say today as I do, that I am a proud Hindu American, that I am proud of celebrating Diwali, that the Hindu American culture has enriched America and the world,” said Congressman Ro Khanna, who pointed out his district in California has the largest Indian American community in the nation.

“I think of Diwali as a time of sustenance … the food, the lights and a community event. To find sustenance in the things we grew up with which make us who we are today, and that is why the work of Indiaspora is important,” said Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal.

“It’s time to run for office…we will be rooting for you and supportive of you. It doesn’t matter if you win or lose, it matters that you ran for the right reasons – to serve the community,” said Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi.

“As we close out 2021, I plan to introduce legislation that would further enshrine this day of light, Diwali, as a federal holiday,” said Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, who was instrumental in helping Indiaspora and community partners in their advocacy for a United States Postal Stamp commemorating Diwali which came to fruition in 2016.

“We should also take a moment to acknowledge that it’s not just elected officials that make a difference in public service, it’s also the many staff members who work in the offices in congress and in city halls and in state legislatures and school boards across the country,” said Congressman Joaquin Castro.

“Diwali marks the beginning of a new year and an opportunity to celebrate the abundance of good in this world with family and close friends. I am proud to see how ties between the US and India have strengthened over the years,” said Senator John Cornyn, Co-Chair of the Senate India Caucus, in a video message submitted to Indiaspora.

MEDIA CONTACT: 

 

Mansi Patel

Director of Communications, Indiaspora 

mansi@indiaspora.org 

(772) 486-0351