On November 30, 2017, members of the New Jersey Legislature and prominent Indian-Americans gathered to celebrate the Hindu festival of Diwali at the New Jersey State House. Built in 1792, the State House in Trenton is one of the oldest state houses in the country, and this was the first time in its history that a Diwali celebration was hosted there.
BAPS organized the historic day in conjunction with Assemblyman Daniel R. Benson and his office. The festival was celebrated with an Annakut, an offering of traditional, vegetarian dishes to the sacred images of God. Members of the State Senate and Assembly attended the event and spoke to the audience of the BAPS community, legislative staff, employees of the Office of Legislative Services, and others.
Throughout the morning and afternoon, State leaders highlighted the diversity of New Jersey, and the increasing role Indian-Americans play in the state. Assemblyman Speaker-Elect Craig Coughlin spoke of the many South Asians he represented and wished the audience a ‘Happy Diwali.’ Members of the Legislature who attended and spoke at the event:
Arthur Barclay (District 5)
Daniel R. Benson (District 14)
Herb Conaway Jr. (District 7)
Craig J. Coughlin (District 19)
Patricia Egan Jones (District 5)
Tim Eustace (District 38)
Joe Howarth (District 8)
Pamela R. Lampitt (District 6)
Nancy F. Munoz (District 21)
Erik Paterson (District 23)
Nancy J. Pinkin (District 18)
Shavonda E. Sumter (District 35)
Christopher “Kip” Bateman (District 16)
Patrick J. Diegnan, Jr. (District 18)
Linda R. Greenstein (District 14)
Nilsa Cruz-Perez (District 5)
Nellie Pou (District 35)
The recurring theme Legislators focused on was the importance of coming together and embracing the diversity of New Jersey. Many delegates hoped that event marked just the first of many Diwali celebrations held at the State House.