Michelle Obama Hosts Diwali Celebrations at White House

WASHINGTON (TIP): A PTI report filed by Lalit K Jha on November 6 recounts how US First Lady won the hearts of Indians when she was in India and of Indian Americans here in the US. The report says, three years after she mesmerized Indians with her rhythmic dance in Mumbai, Bollywood dance made its official White House debut when US First Lady Michelle Obama danced to the tune of peppy Hindi tracks in the East Room along with Indian-American children. Michelle, who led the Diwali celebrations at the White House for the first time, lit the ‘diya’ amidst chanting of Vedic mantras. In 2009, President Barack Obama attended the Diwali celebrations for the first time at the White House. “This holiday is celebrated by members of some of the world’s oldest religions not just here in America but across the globe. Diwali is a time for celebration… As Barack and I learned during our visit to India, it’s a time to come together with friends and family, often with dancing and good food,” she said. “Diwali is also a time for contemplation and reflection. It’s a time for us to think about our obligations to our fellow human beings, particularly those who are less fortunate than we are. And as we light the diya – the lamp – we recommit ourselves to the triumph of light over darkness, of good over evil,” she said before lighting the ‘diya’.

Michelle was garlanded by Mythili Bachu, the Chair for the Council of Hindu Temples of North America, amidst applause from a select Indian-American audience. “We got to practice a little Bollywood this afternoon,” she told the audience at the East Room. Giving some of the poses from the Bollywood dances she did earlier in the day, Michelle said she danced along with the kids who were seated in the front rows of the East Room. “We had a wonderful time. It was the first time that we did Bollywood in the State Room here at the White House,” she said amidst applause from the audience, which comprised of the who’s who of the Indian- American Community members and those in the Obama Administration. Obama has the distinction of appointing the largest number of Indian-Americans in any presidential administrations yet. Wearing a glamorous skirt especially made for the occasion by India-born eminent designer Naeem Khan, Michelle gave a few poses from the dance number. “Of course, as you all know, I think I can dance,” she said in an apparent reference to her dance in Mumbai three years ago when she celebrated Diwali. “But not as good as they can dance,” she said, referring to the expert dance by members of the Gold Spot Band, the New York-based popular Indian-American band. Michelle also used the occasion to remember the victims of Oak Creek Gurdwara.

“As we gather here this Diwali, we remember that there is still evil in the world. And I’m thinking today about what happened in Oak Creek, Wisconsin just last year when an act of unthinkable violence shook a community to its core. But I am also thinking of how in the face of such evil, we also witnessed the power of goodness and forgiveness,” she said. “The families and community leaders I met when I visited Oak Creek just weeks after the tragedy, they showed us such courage and grace. Instead of giving in to bitterness or despair, they honored those they lost through service,” she said. “They honored those they lost through educating others about their faith and standing up to prejudice in whatever form it takes. I’m also thinking of all the people across America and around the world who held prayer vigils during that time and sent messages of love and support, and held the people of Oak Creek in their hearts,” she said.

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