Barack Obama greets people on Diwali

Last Updated: Fri, Nov 05, 2010 02:59 hrs

Washington: US President Barack Obama on Thursday greeted people across the globe on the occasion of Diwali and said that he is looking forward to his India visit.

Obama arrives in Mumbai a day after Diwali and this year he would be celebrating the festival of lights with school children in the financial capital of India.

"Tomorrow, Hindus, Jains, Sikhs and some Buddhists, here in America and around the world, will celebrate the holiday of Diwali - the festival of lights," Obama said in his Diwali message.

"This is a day when members of some of the world's oldest religions celebrate the triumph of good over evil. Last year, I marked this holiday as many will this weekend  by lighting the Diya, or lamp. This lamp symbolizes the victory of light over darkness and knowledge over ignorance," he said.

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"Diwali is a time for celebration, but it is also a time for reflection  a time when we must remember that there are always others less fortunate then ourselves. This holiday reminds us all that we should commit ourselves to helping those in need. For many, this is also a time to gather with family and to pray," Obama said.

"To those celebrating Diwali in India, I look forward to visiting you over the next few days. And to all those who will celebrate this joyous occasion on Friday, I wish you, your families and loved ones Happy Diwali and 'Saal Mubarak'," said the US President.

Early this week, the White House said Obama, who last year became the first American president to personally celebrate Diwali in the historic East Room of the White House, wanted to celebrate the festival of lights with Indians in India.

"He (Obama) specifically wanted to have an opportunity to celebrate Diwali and to do so with the Indian people... getting beyond simply his official business," said Jeff Bader, Senior Director for Asia Affairs at the National Security Council.

Obama arrives in Mumbai on the wee hours of November 6, the day after the festival of lights.

Obama and the First Lady are scheduled to visit a school in Mumbai on November 7.

"At that school, he will participate in a Diwali celebration, which includes lighting a lantern, which is something that is of course common to Diwali celebrations. And then the President will have an opportunity to watch some schoolchildren perform a cultural dance associated with Diwali as well," he said.

"So he'll have the opportunity to celebrate Diwali with these schoolchildren in Mumbai specifically, and with the Indian people more broadly," Bader said when asked what Obama hopes to accomplish there for Diwali.

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"Last year we were very excited to host the Diwali event, a celebration here at the White House, underscoring, again, the importance of Diwali as a wonderful holiday," he said, referring to the last year's Diwali celebrations at the White House.

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