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When Antony Blinken spoke about Bajrang Bali at the White House – Times of India

WASHINGTON: US secretary of state Antony Blinken highlighted the importance of religious freedom as a fundamental American value and informed that a 500-year-old stolen statue of Hanuman, a Hindu deity, was returned to the Indian government earlier this year.
“Just this past February, our colleagues at the Mission in Australia, in partnership with the US department of homeland security and Indian law enforcement agents, recovered a 500-year-old stolen statue of Hanuman, a Hindu deity, and returned it to the Indian government,” said US secretary of state Antony Blinken.
Union minister G Kishan Reddy had earlier acknowledged the same and tweeted, “500-year-old Lord Hanuman bronze idol stolen from Tamil Nadu temple, to be repatriated back. The stolen idol retrieved by US homeland security was handed over to @HCICanberra by US CDA Under the leadership of PM Sh@narendramodi the repatriation of our heritage continues.”
He also stressed that the USA shows support for religious diversity through helping to preserve vital pieces of cultural heritage around the world.
His remarks came as he hosted the in-person Diwali reception following a gap of two years due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
This event, which follows the White House‘s biggest Diwali event on Monday, received guests from the diplomatic and religious communities, from the private sector and from all across civil society.
“Simply to you: it’s an honour – an honour to host you at the state department for this first in-person Diwali since before the pandemic,” Blinken said in his remarks at the Diwali reception.
“Over the past few days, Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, Buddhists have decorated their homes with rungolee; they’ve shared sweets; they’ve given thanks through pooja; they’ve lit sparklers. All around the world, from the streets of New Delhi, to the parks of Kuala Lumpur, to right down the street at the White House, people have gathered to share in the simple joy of being around friends and family”, he added.
Speaking to the diplomatic, and civil society members present at the reception, Blinken said they are playing an invaluable role in helping to connect the US with local populations abroad, and “by pushing us to do more to support religious freedom around the world.”
“We are honoured to host you. This is the first Diwali reception of this scale in the White House ever to be held. We have more Asian Americans than ever before in history and we want to thank you for making the Diwali celebration a joyous part of American culture,” US President Joe Biden said during a reception to celebrate Diwali at the White House.
Wishing a Happy Diwali to more than one billion Hindus, Jains, Sikhs, and Buddhists celebrating Diwali, Biden thanked the Asian American community in the US for making the Diwali celebration a joyous part of American culture.
“As we host the official White House Diwali reception, we are honoured to light the diya surrounded by members of the most diverse administration in American history–led by Vice President Kamala Harris, the first Black American and South Asian American to become Vice President,” he added.
Biden thanked for the optimism, courage, and empathy demonstrated by the incredible South Asian community all across America.
Diwali is an auspicious festival that symbolizes the triumph of good over evil. Spectacular lights, firecrackers, irresistible traditional sweets and exchanging gifts mark the festival.

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