Michelle Obama celebrates Diwali in 'Bollywood style' at White House

Washington, Nov 6: US First Lady Michelle Obama led the Diwali celebrations at the White House with Bollywood music at the State Room of the building along with Indian-American children and a popular band.

"We got to practise a little Bollywood this afternoon," Michelle told a select Indian-American audience at the East Room on the occasion of Diwali celebrations at the White House yesterday.

"We had a wonderful time, it was the first time that we did Bollywood in the State Room here at the White House," she said amidst applause from the audience, which comprised of the of the Indian-American community members and those in the Obama Administration. President Barack Obama has the distinction of appointing the largest number of Indian-Americans in any presidential administrations yet.

Michelle wore a glamorous skirt especially made for the occasion by India-born eminent designer Naeem Khan, who also attended the function. "Of course, as you all know, I think I can dance," she said in an apparent reference to her dance in Mumbai three years ago when she observed Diwali there.

But not as good as they can dance," she said, referring to the expert dance by members of the Gold Spot Band, the New York-based eminent Indian-American band. "As you know, this holiday is celebrated by members of some of the world's oldest religions not just here in America but across the globe.

Diwali is a time for celebration. As Barack and I learned during our visit to India, it's a time to come together with friends and family, often with dancing and good food," she said.

For the first time, Michelle Obama led Diwali celebrations at the White House.

"But Diwali is also a time for contemplation and reflection. It's a time for us to think about our obligations to our fellow human beings, particularly those who are less fortunate than we are," Michelle said.

This is for the first time that the First Lady led the Diwali celebrations at the White House. In 2009, President Barack Obama attended theDiwali celebrations for the first time.

However, Michelle used the occasion to remember the victims of Oak Creek Gurdwara that killed several Sikh worshippers last year. "As we gather here this Diwali, we remember that there is still evil in the world. And I'm thinking today about what happened in Oak Creek, Wisconsin just last year when an act of unthinkable violence shook a community to its core.

But I am also thinking of how in the face of such evil, we also witnessed the power of goodness and forgiveness," she said.

"The families and community leaders I met when I visited Oak Creek just weeks after the tragedy, they showed us such courage and grace. Instead of giving in to bitterness or despair, they honoured those they lost through service," she said.

"They honoured those they lost through educating others about their faith and standing up to prejudice in whatever form it takes. I'm also thinking of all the people across America and around the world who held prayer vigils during that time and sent messages of love and support, and held the people of Oak Creek in their hearts," she said.


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