Eid Celebrated at Indian Embassy Residence

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August 13, 2015

By Geeta Goindi

Envoy Urges Diaspora to actively participate in PM Modi’s upcoming US visit

Indian Ambassador Arun K. Singh addressing the gathering at the Eid-ul-Fitr celebration which he hosted at his residence

August 13, 2015

By Geeta Goindi

Envoy Urges Diaspora to actively participate in PM Modi’s upcoming US visit

Indian Ambassador Arun K. Singh addressing the gathering at the Eid-ul-Fitr celebration which he hosted at his residence

Washington, DC – On August 8 at a special function celebrating Eid-ul-Fitr, Delhi’s top diplomat here urged members of the Indian-American community to actively participate in the upcoming visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to America, next month.

Warmly welcoming over 200 eminent guests to his official residence, Indian Ambassador Arun K. Singh disclosed that Prime Minister Modi will be visiting the US, in September, with stops in New York, San Jose and San Francisco.  “The focus will be on entrepreneurship, innovation, digital economy, renewable energy – areas where members of the Indian diaspora have made a significant contribution to cutting edge technology”, he said.

The trip comes one year after the prime minister’s successful visit to New York and Washington, DC.  According to various news sources, he will travel to New York on September 28 for a bilateral meeting with President Obama, on the sidelines of the seventieth session of the United Nations General Assembly.

Noting that “this is the time when relations between India and the US have renewed energy, vitality”, Ambassador Singh underscored the important role and contributions of the thriving Indian diaspora at the celebratory event in his residence.  “I would like to take this opportunity to urge all of you to participate actively to make the visit of our Prime Minister as successful, if not more, than the visit last year”, he told the gathering.

Ambassador Singh recalled that in his earlier post as Deputy Chief of Mission at the Embassy here, he had the privilege of celebrating Eid on five occasions.  “I feel, in a sense, that I have come back to my family to celebrate it once again this year”, he said, to loud applause.

 “Growing up in India I remember that Eid meant for us a day of celebration, joy, meeting friends and family.  In the spirit of India, members of all religions participated in this joyous occasion”, he said.

In a powerful keynote address on the significance of Eid, Manal Omar, Acting Vice President for the Middle East and Africa Center at the United States Institute of Peace, spoke of various aspects of, and emotions evoked by, the festival – celebration, spirituality, stockholding, solidarity, charity, a time of purification, a time of gratitude, a time to reflect on the roles of family, friends and community.

With regard to solidarity, she candidly told fellow Muslims at the function that Eid “is a time when you have to hold even your own community responsible.  This is a moment when we seek truth.  More and more, we are seeing people turning to violence.  It is important that Muslims seize every opportunity to speak out against the violence even if it means looking inward and holding our community accountable”.

Scenes from Eid-ul-Fitr celebration at the Indian Embassy Residence in Washington. Top: Ambassador Arun K. Singh (third from left) is seen with Indian-American artistes and activists; below left: Delegate Kumar Barve (Democrat – Maryland) who is running for Congress in the 8th District is seen at right with community leader Benoy Thomas; below right: keynote speaker Manal Omar, of the United States Institute of Peace, addressing the gathering

It is noteworthy that Omar has been named among the world’s top 500 most influential Muslims in the world by Georgetown University.  She is an American Muslim of Palestinian descent, raised in Northern Virginia and South Carolina.

 “During Ramadan, you become aware of how much we have and how little we need to survive”, she told the gathering at the Embassy Residence.  “It’s inexcusable how much famine we have in the world today”, she lamented.  “We have the means to take food anywhere on the planet and yet we still have people starving”.

Among the guests at the Eid celebration were activists of both the Muslim and Hindu communities here who trace their roots to India.

Looking around the ornate room, Omar noted, “It is difficult to go to an Eid prayer today that doesn’t include a rich diversity.  Eid is now an opportunity to experience multiple cultures, different cuisines, and to gain a sense of the global Islamic culture”, she said.

Noting that Eid-ul-Fitr is the feast of breaking the fast, she pointed out that the “practice of fasting is another reminder of Islam as a universal religion because every religion and tradition has some sort of fasting”, citing tenets of Christianity and Hinduism.

Hoping to celebrate Eid in India, Omar told the gathering, “Tonight is truly a deep pleasure because for me it brings me closer to my ambition of celebrating Eid one day in your country.  I have heard my Muslim friends talk about Eid in India.  It warms my heart to hear how Hindus and Muslims as well as members of other faiths celebrate Eid together”.

Scenes from the 2015 Eid-ul-Fitr celebration at the Indian Embassy Residence in Washington. Top: Ambassador Arun K. Singh and his wife, Mrs. Maina Singh (front, second from right) are flanked by community activists; below: keynote speaker Manal Omar (third from left) who is with the US Institute of Peace is seen with guests

Continuing to admire the secularism and diversity of the world’s largest democracy, she said, “The success of different religions co-existing is not the success of India alone.  It’s truly a global success.  The ability of Islam to thrive in a pluralistic society such as India can be held as a success for the global community as a whole, particularly the region from where I come, the Middle East.  At a time when religion is misinterpreted, used as a political tool, we are thirsty for successful models”.

Omar told the gathering, “I look to learn from Indian Muslims who having lived in a pluralistic and tolerant environment in India are now in a unique position to share (their experiences and knowledge) with the (larger) Muslim community and play a constructive role in projecting a positive image of Islam and solving problems in a peaceful way”.

The program began with an Islamic prayer and concluded with entertainment by the professional music group, Tarang, led by Mrs. Urmila Prasad and Vidya Sagar.  The vote of thanks was delivered by Zafar Iqbal, and Aastha Verma served as a charming mistress of ceremonies.


Community Special by MYDOSTI.COM

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