UN Celebrates Diwali, Lights Diya For First Time

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New York: A Diwali diya was lit at the UN headquarters for the first time amid a celebration of Indian culture and heritage as the festival continued to light up the world body.

UN General Assembly President Peter Thomson lit the traditional lamp at a ceremony here yesterday to celebrate Diwali at the UN Secretariat.

“The #Diwali Diya is lighted @UN for 1st time. Thank you Ambassador Thomson for your open embrace of multiculturalism,” India’s Ambassador to the UN Syed Akbaruddin tweeted.

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The Diwali celebrations at the UN included Indian dance and music performances as traditional Indian fare was served for UN diplomats and officials. Diwali was commemorated for the first time at the United Nations, as the world body’s imposing headquarters was lit up especially on the occasion of the Indian festival of lights.

The UN’s facade was lit in bright hues and the words ‘Happy Diwali’ along with the image of a traditional diya (lamp) projected onto the building. The image was displayed from October 29-31.

It is for the first time that the Indian festival of lights has been celebrated at the UN after it was recognised by the world body.

 The UN General Assembly had adopted a resolution in December 2014 that acknowledged the “significance of Diwali”. Noting that the festival is observed in many UN member states, the resolution had called on UN bodies to avoid holding meetings on Diwali, declaring it a no-meeting day.

From 2016 onwards, Diwali was made an optional holiday for the UN, India’s Permanent Mission to the UN said in a special video message. Thomson had also tweeted a picture of the UN building lit up in bright blue for Diwali and said, “Light over darkness, hope over despair, knowledge over ignorance, good over evil – the UN lights up. Happy Diwali!”

City residents had flocked to the UN headquarters in large numbers to take a photo of the first-ever such projection on the building.