The venue was colorfully decorated in lights and lamps. As dusk fell, guests played with the traditional sparklers as smoke filled the air.
Vice President Kamala Harris and her husband Doug Emhoff opened their home at the Naval Observatory in Washington DC Oct. 21 to host a grand Diwali party.
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Surgeon General Vivek Murthy and Neera Tanden, senior advisor to President Joe Biden, joined scores of A-list Indian Americans who participated in the celebrations, the first to be held at the Vice President’s home. The venue was colorfully decorated in lights and lamps. As dusk fell, guests played with the traditional sparklers as smoke filled the air.
To the puzzlement of many, Harris wore her traditional pant suit, eschewing the saris, anarkhalis, and lehngas sported by her female guests. She later apologized to her guests during a speech, laughing along with her guests as she said: “I’m sorry I’m not wearing a sari, but I did wear some nice jewelry.”
Seeking Light In Moments Of Darkness
In a speech, Harris fondly remembered celebrating Diwali as a child in Chennai. She recalled getting dressed up in new clothes and then going out on to the streets to throw fireworks. “What could be better?” she proclaimed, to long laughs from the crowd.
“As I get older, I really am beginning to appreciate Diwali more. It really is a universal concept: seeking light in moments of darkness, and shedding light in moments of darkness.”
White House Celebrations
“We are not without great challenges, in our own country, and in the world. Celebrations like Diwali remind us of our power to bring lightness to the world,” said the Vice President. There is so much about Diwali that is also enlightenment above ignorance.” President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden celebrated Diwali at the White House Oct. 24.
Diwali, one of the most important festivals in Hinduism, begins today with colorful customs and celebrations. The holiday also has significance for Sikhs and Jains, and is celebrated not just in India, but in Nepal, Malaysia, Singapore and other countries with South Asian diasporas. It’s generally celebrated for five days, with the biggest day being the third one.
More and more major brands are recognizing the festival of lights, running ad campaigns and stocking products related to the holiday in the US. South Asian Americans who celebrate Diwali can now pick up fireworks from Costco, greeting cards from Hallmark and party decorations from Target. The proliferation of the ad campaigns and products, marketing strategists and business owners say, reflects just how much the South Asian population in the US has grown in recent years.