Michelle Obama embraces Bollywood dance music in the White House
Who would have imagined celebrating Diwali, the Indian festival of lights, at the White House of all venues? For a group of Indian-American children, it must have been a delightful, once in a lifetime experience to do just that. To top it off, the children even got to shake a leg with US First Lady, Michelle Obama, who is no stranger to the hypnotic beats of Bollywood, having danced to it during her visit to Mumbai over three years ago. Keeping in mind Indian traditions, Obama lit a traditional “diya” as spiritual mantras were chanted in reverence and celebration. 2009 had seen her husband Barack do the same during his India tour. 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. And as we light the “diya” - the lamp - we recommit ourselves to the triumph of light over darkness, of good over evil,” stated Obama, as she lit numerous “diyas” in the presence of Indian friends and dignitaries who were invited for the celebrations. The ceremony was concluded with her being garlanded by the Chairperson for the Council of Hindu Temples of North America. She seemed most pleased with the dancing part of the celebrations, however, stating with great enthusiasm, “We got to practice a little Bollywood this afternoon”. Obama is known for her proactive approach to events and programmes as well as her stylish sense of fashion. Not one to disappoint, she enjoyed dancing and celebrating, and wore a custom designed festive skirt by Naeem Khan, a fashion designer of Indian origin. However, there was a somber addition to the festivities as Obama paid tribute to the victims of the Wisconsin Sikh Temple shooting which took place in August 2012. Referring to the families of the bereaved, Obama stated that she would keep them and the residents of Oak Creek in her prayers, and lauded them for their courage and grace which they displayed in the face of such a tragedy. In the White House, Diwali was celebrated amidst fanfare and dancing. The fact that the First Lady is embracing and welcoming cultures which are different from American culture, is a welcoming sign at a time when an undertone of racism and xenophobia are in existence. America, much like India, has prided itself on being welcoming and accommodating of all cultures, and it is encouraging to see Michelle Obama taking a proactive approach to rapport building with the Indo-American community. She has gained a reputation for being welcoming towards different cultures and lifestyles, and is popular among the youth for her visible love for modern music, namely hip hop and r n b. Her embracing and incorporation of multicultural events, festivals and pop culture in all aspects of her social life is one of her many endearing qualities.