US lawmakers hail Indian-Americans' contribution to development at Capitol Diwali events

US lawmakers hail Indian-Americans' contribution to development at Capitol Diwali events

Washington, Nov 23 (PTI) Three Diwali events were held at the US Capitol during the past week with a large number of lawmakers recognising the role being played by Indian-Americans in the country's socioeconomic development.

'The principles of Diwali -- the triumph of good over evil, the triumph of righteousness, the importance of doing your duty -- are good reminders to people of all faiths,' Indian-American Congressman Ro Khanna said in his remarks at the largest Diwali event at the US Capitol.

The event was organised by BAPS, in association with the Hindu American Foundation, Asian American Hotel Owners' Association, Shrimad Rajchandra Mission Dharampur, Federation of Jain Associations in North America, American Jewish Committee, US Indian Community Foundation, US India Security Council and the Indian American Relations Council.

Joined by over 300 members of the Indian-American community from across the US, the annual event was attended by a large number of US lawmakers, including Senator Cynthia Lummis, Congressman Scott Perry, Congressman Shri Thanedar, Congresswoman Deborah Ross, Congresswoman Anna Paulina Luna, Congressman Matt Cartwright and Ohio State Senator Niraj Antani.

The elected representatives passionately emphasised the vital role of diversity in their constituencies. They underscored the profound impact of sharing cultural traditions and celebrations such as Diwali in promoting deeper understanding, fortifying community strength and building connections among diverse populations, BAPS said in a release.

'May the festival of lights inspire us to lift our communities with hope instead of despair and stand up for what's right. That's what Diwali is all about,' Congressman Jim Costa said, describing the spirit of the celebration at the US Capitol on November 15.

The same evening, the Republican Hindu Coalition hosted the Congressional Hindu Caucus to celebrate Diwali and its official inauguration.

Republican Hindu Coalition Chairman and Caucus Policy Advisor Shalabh 'Shalli' Kumar served as host to Caucus Co-Chairs Elise Stefanik and Pete Sessions and 16 other members of the US Congress, a release said.

'Today I am so excited to announce the official launch of the Congressional Hindu Caucus in the United States Congress,' said House Republican Conference Chair Elise Stefanik.

Kumar said in his remarks, 'Lately, more than 20 per cent of all high-tech startups are owned by Hindu Americans and the list of Fortune 100 Hindu CEOs, CTOs, CFOs is growing every day. The innovation and success of the recent landing by India on the south pole of the moon at one-tenth the normal cost speaks volumes about Hindus and Sanatan Dharma.' In the third event, Hindus for Human Rights convened a multi-faith Diwali gathering on Capitol Hill where it urged for a ceasefire in Gaza. The event was attended by Khanna and Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib.

'Wherever our background is, we all believe that light triumphs. We all need to strive to make that true in our own time. For those of us who come from communities that have suffered discrimination or disposition or just any form of oppression, it is a moving testament to courage and faith in injustice as we come together,' Tlaib said.

'For all of us, the light of lamps, lighting of lamps throughout our communities is a reminder again of that,' she added.

Khanna said, 'My understanding of Hinduism is shaped by Gandhi and that means it's a faith that is open to all people, all interpretations, against caste, for pluralism -- and we need that voice and we need to be understanding that voice today -- especially in this world. So I appreciate your being here and your standing for those principles.' Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal in a written statement said, 'This year, however, we celebrate (Diwali) in a time of great crisis, with so many of our South Asian community, including Muslims, Sikhs, Christians and Hindus, feeling afraid.' 'Many are being targeted by hate crimes as the Israel-Gaza war continues and people question if they matter and have value, just like after 9/11. That was a difficult time for our communities but it's also when I got my start in organising,' she added. PTI LKJ SZM

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