Vice President Kamala Harris opened her official residence for scores of Indian Americans to celebrate the festival of lights on Friday. The official residence of the vice president was colorfully decorated with lights and diyas (earthen lamps) while the guests were served a wide variety of traditional Indian delicacies. It included ‘pani puri’ to traditional sweets.
Diwali is celebrated across many cultures. Harris explained that it is about being motivated by the significance of light over darkness and shining light in times of darkness.”As the vice president, I think a lot about it because we are not without great challenges in our own country and in the world. And these are the moments when a festival like Diwali reminds us of the importance of our power to bring light in moments of darkness,” she said.
The invited guests, who had come from all over the country, by giving them sparklers. They lit them with Harris and the Second Gentleman as they cheered and wished one another a “Happy Diwali.” There were many special dance performances on Indian songs to entertain the guest.
Recollecting her days of celebrating as a child in Chennai, Harris said , “It is about culture. It is about an age-old concept that transcends cultures and communities. It is about a point of reflection and a moment of reflection to consider the duality of life in terms of the balance between darkness and light. And to celebrate the light. In that way, to think about what our role is and what our role should be in elevating us out of the darkness, guided by the light.”
“There are moments in our country right now where there are those who fight against democratic principles. The principles upon which our nation was founded. Principles like freedom, and liberty,” she said.
“In the last few years, we have experienced a lot that has been about powerful forces trying to divide, trying to focus on what they would suggest are dissimilarities when we all know that the vast majority of us have so much more in common than what separates us,” she added.
“And in these moments where we all have a keen awareness of the unfairness and the injustice of it all, let us be guided by our knowledge that it is not new, that there will be moments like this, but that we have the power to make a difference and to elevate any moment in a way that we feel and can see the future and the possibility and all that is bright that the world allows when we have the ability to believe in it,” Harris said.
The celebration was attended by many Indian American members of the Biden-Harris Administration, including President’s Special Advisor Neera Tanden, Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy, and Biden’s Speech Writer Vinay Reddy. America’s former Ambassador to India, Richa Verma was also present .