Diwali at the White House


By Narasimmam Srinivasagam, Upper St. Clair, PA.

Editor’s Note:  Dr. Srinivasagam is a long-time resident here, having arrived in Pittsburgh in 1965. He ha been working in the Jefferson and Braddock hospitals. He lives in Upper St. Clair with his wife Nancy. Here he recounts the Diwali gala at the White House.

N. Srinivasagam (extreme left) at the Diwali function at the White House with Vice President Joe Biden

On November 5th I received an invitation from my daughter who has recently been appointed to a position at the White House. The invitation was for a reception for the Indian community to celebrate Diwali on November 9th  hosted by Vice-President Joe Biden as President Obama was on a state visit to Asia.  With much excitement I attended the function along with about 150 fellow Indians from the Washington D.C. area.  Some of the guests were from the Sri Shiva Vishnu Temple in DC, whose chairman, Leila Mandava was also present.  As a member of the S.V. Temple, I received a warm welcome from everyone gathered.

Vice President Biden welcomed everybody and then the festivities began. The priest form the Sri Shiva Vishnu temple performed the Diwali puja, with Vice President lighting the decorative lamps. A brief, but gracious Bharatanatyam recital followed. Vice President Biden then spoke about the vibrant Indian community across the country and how happy and honored he was to be part of the festivities. After the ceremony, Indian snacks were served and I mingled with other invitees. I had an opportunity to briefly talk to the Vice President and a member of Congress present.

This was an unforgettable experience as an Indian and an American to celebrate this holy holiday at the White House. I was awestruck by grandeur of the place and the magnitude of the event, and was thankful that President Obama and Vice President Biden recognize, as Presidents Bush and Clinton did, the importance of good Indian-American relationship. It was an amazing evening, God Bless America!   

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