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Donald Trump, Justin Trudeau, Other World Leaders Celebrate Diwali

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Diwali, celebrated with aplomb in India, is no longer restricted within its borders. United States President Donald Trump on Oct.17 celebrated the festival in the Oval Office with Indian-American members of his administration, including Nikki Haley and Seema Verma, and other community leaders. In Canada, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau too lit a diya to mark the festival.

“As we do so, we especially remember the People of India, the home of the Hindu faith, who have built the world’s largest democracy,” Trump wrote in a post on Facebook. “I greatly value my very strong relationship with Prime Minister Modi. Diwali is one of the most important celebrations in the Hindu religion. A time of peace and prosperity for the New Year, it is a tradition that is held dear by more than 1 billion Hindus worldwide and more than 2 million Hindus in the United States. It is also celebrated by millions of Buddhists, Sikhs, and Jains in America, India and around the world.”

The tradition of Diwali celebration in the White House was first started by former President George Bush, though he never personally participated in them. The celebration was at the time mostly held in the India Treaty Room of the adjacent executive office building that is situated in the White House complex. Barack Obama was the first president to celebrate the festival personally at the White House in 2009. He lit the ceremonial diya in the Oval Office in 2016.

This year, many leaders from across the world celebrated the festival of lights.

Canadian PM Justin Trudeau wore a black sherwani and lit a diya to celebrate the festival where good prevails over evil while celebrating in Ottawa. He wished “Diwali Mubarak” on Twitter, a message which was censured by the Twitterati as the word “Mubarak” has Arabic origins.

In South Africa, the Zulu King, Goodwill Goodwill Zwelithini, celebrated Diwali for the first time in his palace to iron out the tension between the Indian and Zulu community in recent times.

The Vatican also sent out a Diwali message to Hindus and Christians in light of the tensions between the two communities in India.

“May this festival of lights illumine your minds and lives, bring joy to your hearts and homes, and strengthen your families and communities,” read a greeting to Hindus sent by the Pontifical Council for Interreligous Dialogue. The message was signed by the council’s president, Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, and its secretary, Bishop Miguel Ayuso Guixot.

In Australia, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull sent his greetings while Member of Parliament Kelly O’Dwyer hosted a Diwali event, Indian Link reported.

“Diwali is a wonderful opportunity to acknowledge our great fortune to live in a land of peace and tolerance where diversity is valued and celebrated,” Turnbull said in his Diwali message. He added that Australia is “the most successful multicultural nation on earth,” which “shines brightly as a beacon”, in a world ravaged by divisions and conflict.

O’Dwyer said: “I feel blessed because in Higgins there are approximately 6,150 people who identify with their Indian ancestry. There are a lot of people who are either born in India or identify with their Indian ancestry because their parents, grandparents or great grandparents were born in India.” She added: “Interestingly, approximately 1,500 residents in Higgins speak Hindi.”

In the East, Singapore is also home to millions of Indians. The Istana, which is the official residence and office of the President of Singapore, will conduct an open house on Oct. 19 to celebrate Diwali. A number of activities have been planned for the visiting public. Last week, 24 Singapore MPs had dressed in Indian attire to celebrate Diwali.

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