Washington: President Barack Obama, the first US president to celebrate Diwali in the White House in 2009, has wished Hindus, Jains, Sikhs and some Buddhists around the world a "Happy Diwali and Saal Mubarak."

"Today, here in America and around the world, Hindus, Jains, Sikhs and some Buddhists will celebrate the holiday of Diwali - the festival of lights," he said in a statement on the observance of Diwali Wednesaday.

"Many who observe this holiday do so by lighting the Diya, or lamp, which symbolizes the victory of light over darkness and knowledge over ignorance," said Obama, who along with wife Michelle joined Diwali celebrations in Mumbai during his visit to India in November last year.

"I was proud to be the first president to mark Diwali and light the Diya at the White House, and last year Michelle and I were honoured to join in Diwali celebrations during our visit to India," he said recalling his association with the festival of lights.

"Diwali is a time for gathering with family and friends and-as we experienced in India-celebrating with good food and dancing. It is also a time for contemplation and prayer that serves as a reminder of our obligations to our fellow human beings, especially the less fortunate.

"To all who are observing this sacred holiday here and around the world, Happy Diwali and Saal Mubarak."

(Agencies)