New Delhi: In an expansive gesture to Indians worldwide as much as to showcase his – and India’s -- multi-cultural affections, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Wednesday lit a ceremonial Diwali lamp to ''symbolise victory of light over darkness.''
''This coming Saturday, Hindus, Jains, Sikhs and some Buddhists, here in India and around the world, will celebrate this holiday by lighting Diyas, or lamps, which symbolize the victory of light over darkness, and knowledge over ignorance,'' Singh said on the occasion, adding, ''And while this is a time of rejoicing, it's also a time for reflection, when we remember those who are less fortunate and renew our commitment to reach out to those in need.''
The Government kept it light and simple. A box of Indian mithai (sweets) was placed on some 150 chairs but there was no food fest or song and dance.
Singh, having lit the diya (a word he handled with aplomb) and wished everyone a ''Happy Diwali and Saal Mubarak,'' listened intently as the priest ended with ''Om Shanti Shanti.'' He returned the priest’s Namaste and then shook his hands before striding out.
Also, in an inconsequential development, Obama, the US President celebrated Diwali in the White house. However, this event was largely ignored by the Indian press, who are generally not starry-eyed about the West and find Diwali celebrations in their own country far more news worthy.