United Nations celebrated Diwali for first year


Today is the fifth day of Diwali known as ‘Bhai Dujon’. According to a previous statement from the Guyana Hindu Dharmic Sabha (GHDS), Bhai Duj which occurs two days after Diwali day marks the love between sisters and brothers and is celebrated to strengthen the bond of care and affection between the two.



Lighting the ceremonial diya - UNGA President Peter Thomson and Khavita Singh
Lighting the ceremonial diya – UNGA President Peter Thomson and Khavita Singh


It was recognized that this is the first year (Sunday, October 30, 2016) since its recognition in 2014, that the United Nations celebrated Diwali.


From this year, Diwali was also made an optional holiday at the UN.


Diwali greetings were beamed onto the facade of the UN building in Manhattan on Saturday night as it turned purple, with the words ‘Happy Diwali’ prominently displayed below a diya. Tourists and New York City residents were seen snapping pictures of the building as it lit up for Diwali.


For the first time, the United Nations also held a special event to celebrate Diwali. It was hosted by Peter Thomson, President of the UN General Assembly and there were performances and food displays from the countries that have Diwali as a National Holiday. The building was also lit up with a special Happy Diwali light projection. Performing for Guyana were Khavita Singh, who also lit the ceremonial lamp with the UNGA President, Vishalie Sukram, Suchitra Ramprashad, Prashant Sitaram, Sharmita Saha and Anash Bhumnarine of the Guyana Hindu Dharmic Sabha USA Praant.


Guyanese artistes with Guyana's Ambassador to the UN - Michael Ten Pow.
Guyanese artistes with Guyana’s Ambassador to the UN – Michael Ten Pow.



On December 29, 2014, the United Nations General Assembly, acknowledging the significance of Diwali, adopted a resolution to avoid holding meetings on this day. India’s ambassador and permanent representative to the UN, Syed Akbaruddin shared an image of the brightly-lit UN building and thanked UNGA President Peter Thompson on Twitter for the initiative.


Peter Thompson, extending the festival greetings, wrote: “Light over darkness, hope over despair, knowledge over ignorance, good over evil – the UN lights up. Happy Diwali!”


Diwali was observed in Guyana on Saturday and Sunday following a division on the official date for the festival.

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