By Geeta Goindi
Washington, DC, November 15, 2020 – Expressing a keen desire to celebrate Diwali at the White House next year, President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Devi Harris greeted Indians around the world on the auspicious festival of lights.
A joint statement by Biden and Harris read, “On behalf of our families, we wish a happy Diwali to Hindus, Jains, Sikhs, Buddhists, and everyone celebrating the festival of lights across the United States, India, and the world”.
This year, the festival comes at a challenging time especially in the US which is suffering from the worst outbreak of Covid-19 in the world. Biden and Harris have made it a top priority to contain and combat the deadly disease which has claimed nearly a quarter million lives here alone.
The incoming president has chosen Indian-American physician Vivek Murthy, US Surgeon General in the Obama era, to lead the new coronavirus task force. The announcement was made soon after he and his deputy delivered their victory speeches in Delaware signifying the immense importance the incoming administration places on combating Covid-19.
The joint Diwali message not only stressed the importance they accord to ending the pandemic, but took aim at the apathy on the part of the Trump administration to do likewise.
“Like so many cherished traditions during the pandemic, we know this year’s Diwali and its symbolizing of light over darkness, knowledge over ignorance, and empathy over apathy arrives with a deeper meaning”, it read.
“Our hearts go out to everyone who is ushering in this new year with the recent loss of a loved one, or who finds themselves fallen on hard times. Our prayers remain with everyone fighting the pandemic on the frontlines instead of staying safe at home in prayer with their families. And, we know the sadness of being apart on a day that truly signifies the blessing of family and friendship”.
The Indian-American physician community is particularly bearing the brunt of the pandemic. The American Association of Physicians of Indian-Origin (AAPI), an advocacy group that represents nearly 100,000 Indian-American doctors, claims that every seventh physician in the US is of Indian descent. Several doctors are in the frontlines in the fight against the coronavirus and many, especially those residing in the New York-New Jersey area, have either succumbed to the cruel Covid-19 or are critically ill.
As Biden and Harris navigate through the transition process to the White House, they expressed hope and optimism for what lies ahead. “Diwali is ultimately a reminder of the light that’s within us all to hope and dream, and to overcome our differences and keep the faith in each other”, they stated in the joint communique. “That’s the light we see shining on this day and that will guide us through the darkness with knowledge, science, truth, unity and compassion”.
To the Indian-American community, they conveyed, “as Diwali is celebrated via video calls and while socially distanced this year, we look forward to celebrating Diwali at the White House next year – in person, together with you, and in a nation healed and united”.