Indiaspora Hosts Diwali Celebration Honoring Indian Americans in Public Service

Indiaspora Hosts Diwali Celebration Honoring Indian Americans in Public Service

October 27, 2021

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 Adviser to President Joe Biden and White House Staff Secretary
  • Congressman James Clyburn, U.S. Representative (SC-6), House Majority Whip 
  • Congressman Steve Chabot, U.S. Representative (OH-1) and Co-Chair of House India Caucus 
  • Congressman Ami Bera, U.S. Representative (CA-7), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Asia, the Pacific, Central Asia, and Nonproliferation 
  • Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal, U.S Representative (WA-7)
  • Congressman Ro Khanna, U.S. Representative (CA-17) and Vice Chair of House India Caucus
  • Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi, U.S. Representative (IL-8) 
  • Congresswoman Judy Chu, U.S. Representative (CA-27), Chair of Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus 
  • 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