Constructed in 1906, the Pennsylvania State Capitol is a National Historic Landmark and home to Pennsylvania’s government. For the first time in its 111 year history, Diwali was celebrated under the grand central rotunda with an annakut, an offering of vegetarian delicacies to God. On October 18, 2017, members of the Senate and House of Representatives and dozens of prominent Indian-Americans gathered for this historic Diwali celebration.
The event was organized and hosted by the BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha in conjunction with State Senator Chuck McIlhinney (Pennsylvania 10th District). Members of the BAPS congregation opened the morning Senate session with Shanti path, a prayer for world peace. State Senator Chuck McIlhinney personally recognized the attending BAPS volunteers and shared information about BAPS and BAPS Charities from the speaker’s podium to an attentive Senate audience. In parallel, State Representatives Todd Stephens and Gene DiGirolamo spoke about their positive interactions with BAPS during the House of Representatives session.
Throughout the afternoon, leaders shared their thoughts on the diverse contributions of Indian Americans to the economic and cultural framework of Pennsylvania. They highlighted the importance of nurturing and advancing the longstanding relationship between India and the State of Pennsylvania. State representatives wished the crowd a very Happy Diwali and a Happy New Year. On behalf of the Pennsylvania government, they expressed deep gratitude to BAPS and the Indian community at large.
The event concluded with the lighting of a divo for arti and a traditional exchange of sweets to celebrate the New Year.