Vice President Kamala Harris celebrated Diwali at her official residence, the Naval Observatory in Washington DC treating her Indian American guests to a host of Indian delicacies with traditional Indian and Bollywood music.
Addressing about 300 guests at the Nov 8 event, Harris, daughter of an Indian mother and a Jamaican father emphasized the significance of celebrating the festival of lights during what she described as a “difficult and dark moment” amid ongoing Israel-Hamas conflict.
“We celebrate Diwali at a time when there’s a lot happening in our world. I think it’s important that as we celebrate Diwali, which is about celebrating the light, we understand it is always in the context of understanding the contrast between light and dark moments,” she said.
“There is certainly a difficult and dark moment that we are facing in our world in a number of ways, but in particular seeing the images in the reports coming out of Israel and Gaza. And I know for all of us, and certainly for me and for Doug (her husband), it’s devastating and heartbreaking,” she said.
“I wanted to just be clear with everyone that President (Joe) Biden and I are working to support Israel’s right to defend itself. We support the need for humanitarian aid to be received by the people in Gaza. We believe it is very important to not conflate who the Palestinians are with Hamas and understand the difference.”
“It is critically important that we bring the American hostages home and that we prevent escalation in that region. So I will speak those words, understanding that it is critically important that when we celebrate something like Diwali, it is about also shedding light in a way that is about speaking the truth,” she said.
“I also want to say that for the Palestinian people, and I’ve said this many times, and I’ll say it again. They have a right and deserve to have an opportunity for self-determination and dignity. We’ll continue to support that as well,” Harris said.
The event featured typical Indian decorations with marigold flowers and strings of it was seen adorning the gates of the home as was a colorful rangoli at the entrance.
On the grounds was an array of Indian delicacies including Malai ice cream, bhel, samosas, cocktails and of course masala chai. The celebration included both traditional music as well as Bollywood music.
Distinguished guests included World Bank President Ajay Banga, US Representatives Raja Krishnamoorthi, Pramila Jayapal, Ro Khanna and Shri Thanedar.
Bela Bajaria, Chief Content Officer of Netflix, Miss USA Nina Davaluri, ABC news anchor Zohreen Shah, American actress and writer Sheetal Sheth and food entrepreneur Pooja Bavishi were also present.