By Surekha Vijh
WASHINGTON: Looks like this has been the year of Diwali celebrations, from the State House to the White House. Even a colorful Diwali celebration was held at the Montgomery County Executive Office café in Rockville, Maryland, one of the United States’ most affluent counties.
Ike Leggett, Montgomery County executive, said that his county was proud of Indian-Americans, the nation of India and its heritage and of course its booming economy. “We may have differences, but we stand together as two large democracies; In the end of the day here we are celebrating Diwali – a festival of lights together.”
He assured that his influential county will work for a US Diwali postal stamp and ultimately, we will have a State holiday in Maryland.
Kumar P. Barve, Maryland State Delegate and Majority Leader, remembering his days of childhood, pointed out that when his parents emigrated from India to the US decades ago, there were a handful Indians or people from India and they were scattered, not enough to have a festival of their own. “But now the number of Indian-Americans has grown and Diwali is celebrated in the White House, on Capitol Hill, at our Governors’ Mansion and each county has their own unique celebration as well. What a wonderful and joyous thing to happen,” he added.
The vibrant cultural program included the traditional ‘diya (lamp) lighting ceremony’ and Ganesh Vandana ( prayer to remove obstacles). A Kuchipudi dance was performed by Kaavya Rao, student of Mrinalni Sadananda and Kavitha Cheedalla of the Kalamandapam School of Dance.
It was followed by a Rajasthan dance by Arundhiti Acharyya and Rachana Rathi, student of Renuka Sahay of the Pushpanjili Dance Group. The program continued with a lively Bharat Natyam dance by Nishedhya Venkataraman, Nisha Ramamurthy, Keshni Marynard, and Anush Yedla, student of Lakshmai Swminathan Natananjali School of Dance and a surprise dance to the American patriotic song “America the Beautiful”.
A welcome address was given by Dr. Suresh Gupta. The cultural program was introduced by Pushpa Dloshotar, a local director and playwrite. A vote of thanks and closing address was given by community leader, Benoy Thomas.
The event was sponsored by the Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett’s Office of Community Parternership and the Indian American community.
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