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Community Leaders at Diwali Celebration at the Governor’s Mansion

Dr. Arun Verma and his wife Vinni presenting a tray of diyas

Dr. Arun Verma and his wife Vinni presenting a tray of diyas

By Jawahar Malhotra

AUSTIN: Just two weeks earlier at the packed Dusserah Mela at Constellation Park in Sugar Land, Gov. Greg Abbott had spoken of the new tradition he had started four-years ago at his official residence in the state capital and the beauty of the Diwali festival. “We have ceremonial lamps in the foyer,” he had told the audience as festival organizer Arun Verma and supporter Durga Das Aggarwal stood behind.

Indian Consul General Anupam Ray and his wife Amit meeting the Governor

Indian Consul General Anupam Ray and his wife Amit meeting the Governor

This past Sunday, November 4, Verma and a group of about 30 other prominent community stalwarts had a private celebration at the Governor’s mansion at which Indian Consul General Anupam Ray presented Abbott with a bust of Mahatma Gandhi. Verma and his wife Vinni presented Abbott and his wife Cecilia with a gold plated tray with LED diyas (lamps) to mark the festive occasion.

Abbott lights the ceremonial lamp before the event marking Diwali at the Governor’s Mansion.

Abbott lit a ceremonial lamp and extended Diwali greetings to the Indian Prime Minister Narender Modi and the Indian community in Texas. The Governor has held this meeting with a select group of Indo Americans every year for the past four years and it is an event that hopes to become an annual tradition.

Entertainment promoter Rajinder Singh with the Abbotts

Consul General Ray presented the statue of Mahatma Gandhi on behalf of PM Modi in commemoration of the Mahatma’s 150th Birth Anniversary and thanked the Abbotts for opening his mansion to celebrate Diwali. Among others who attended were Indian Deputy Consul General Surendra Adhana, Harish Kathrani, businessman Jiten Agarwal, Sujeeth Draksharam, Sugar Land Councilman Himesh Gandhi, Rajinder Singh, and other well-known Indo Americans from across Texas.

Abbott recalled his visit to India earlier this year and his meetings with Modi and other industry leaders. He reflected on the shared Texan and Indian values and similarities between the two countries, and lauded the achievements in education, industry, medicine and business of the Indian community that has settled in the Lone Star State.

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