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Biden celebrates Diwali in the White House, British and Israeli PM send greetings

US President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden celebrating Diwali at the White House on Thursday (Image courtesy: Twitter/@POTUS)

US President Joe Biden celebrated Diwali in the White House on Thursday, thanking those celebrating the festival of lights in the country for making Diwali traditions part of America's story.  

"It is our honour to be the first president and first lady to light a diya together in the White House to celebrate Diwali, the Festival of Lights that is observed by more than one billion Hindus, Jains, Sikhs, and Buddhists in the United States, India, and around the world," said Biden.

The spirit of Diwali, said Biden, is reflected upon in the simple act of lighting a diya, a small candle "that carries such profound meaning". He said that, like many cherished holidays during the pandemic, this year's Diwali carries an even deeper meaning.

"For generations, you have opened your homes and hearts during Diwali to exchange gifts and sweets, host feasts with family and friends, and organise cultural programs in our communities – with prayers and dances, vibrant and colorful art, and sparklers and fireworks – that bring us all together," the US President added.

Kamala Harris, the US Vice President, also wished a happy Diwali to all the Americans and people celebrating all around the world.

"I want to extend my warmest wishes for a happy Diwali to everyone celebrating the festival of lights here in the United States and around the world. This year Diwali arrives with even deeper meaning in the midst of a devastating pandemic," Harris said in a video message.

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, who had a memorable meeting with PM Narendra Modi in Glasgow a few days ago – calling him the "most popular man in Israel" – too sent his Diwali greetings to all the Indians.  

"Happy Diwali to my friend Narendra Modi and to all the people celebrating in India and around the world," Bennett tweeted with another post in Hindi.

Diwali India

Replying to his message, Prime Minister Modi said: "Thank you, my dear friend Naftali Bennett for the wonderful greetings. Wishing you a Happy Diwali too".

Bennett's predecessor, Benjamin Netanyahu also wished PM Modi.

"I wish my friend Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi and all those celebrating a happy Diwali! The friendship between Israel and India is a strong and close one! HappyDiwali," he tweeted with flags of both the countries.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson also extended greetings to everyone celebrating the festivals of Diwali and Bandi Chhor Divas.

"Happy Diwali and Bandi Chhor Divas to everyone celebrating here in the UK and around the world," Johnson tweeted.

"Namaste, it's Boris Johnson here, sending my best wishes to everyone celebrating this year's Festival of Lights, and after the tough times we've all had, I hope that this Diwali, and Bandi Chhor Divas for our Sikh friends, are truly special," UK PM said in a video message.

UK Chancellor Rishi Sunak also unveiled a new £5 collectors coin to celebrate the life of Mahatma Gandhi on the occasion of Diwali.

The coin features an image of India’s national flower and is part of the Royal Mint’s wider Diwali collection, including the UK’s first gold bar depicting an image of the Hindu goddess Lakshmi.

The commemorative coin was launched to coincide with Diwali and in the 75th year of India’s Independence.

"As a practicing Hindu, I am proud to unveil this coin during Diwali. Mahatma Gandhi was instrumental in the movement for Indian independence and it is fantastic to have a UK coin commemorating his remarkable life for the first time," said Sunak on Thursday.

Also Read: PM Modi boosts morale by celebrating Diwali with soldiers in Kashmir