Bush greets Indian-Americans on Diwali

US President George W Bush has wished an "uplifting and hopeful" Diwali to the Indian American community in Washington, saying the festival reminds of the great blessings of religious freedom and the two nations' strong traditions of faith.

The President and the First Lady Laura Bush sent their greetings through the members of the community who came to the Indian Treaty Room of the White House to mark the occasion as it had been done in past years of the Republican administration.

"I send Greetings to those celebrating Deepavali (Diwali), the Festival of Lights" Bush said in a Message. "The candle's flames represent the light of hope and in the blessings of life. The light from these candles reminds observers that good always triumphs over evil and we go forward in confidence that it will continue to prevail in the future" he added.

The President said, "This joyous festival reminds all citizens of the great blessings of religious freedom and our nations strong traditions of faith."

"Laura and I send our Best Wishes for an uplifting and hopeful Diwali," Bush added. "During Diwali, millions of Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists and Jains around the world will join together setting out 'diyas' and enjoying fireworks in celebration of the Festival of Lights," he said.

The function in the White House on Friday was said to have been attended by between 80 to 100 members of the Indian American community including the leadership with some of them travelling from Philadelphia, Detroit and Florida; Congressional Staffers of the Indian American community and senior officials of the Embassy of India.

Addressing the gathering, Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez lauded the India-US relations and the important positions held by members of the Indian American community in both the government and the private sectors.

"This year's celebration of Diwali in the White House has a special meaning for both countries since it crowns a momentous year during which our countries came together closer than ever before" said Arathi Krishna, the Community Development Officer at the Embassy of India and one of the attendees of yesterday's event.

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