This week sees a confluence of religious holidays: on September 7, Secretary Clinton hosted the annual Iftar at the State Department, which this year welcomed "Generation Change" -- young Muslims who are the vibrant and idea-filled "doers" across the arts and sciences. Rosh Hashanah began at sunset on September 8, ushering in the year 5771. In his holiday greeting, President Obama called the occasion a time to "look within ourselves -- to repent for our sins; recommit ourselves to prayer; and remember the blessings that come from helping those in need." You can read the President's full statement here.
This weekend also marks Ganesh Chaturthi in India, Nepal, and Sri Lanka -- a joyous celebration of the birthday of the Hindu god Ganesha, the Remover of Obstacles. The ten-day festival will culminate on the day of Anant Chaturdashi, when exuberant street parades will convey families' and communities' Ganesha statues to water for immersion. Our photo this week comes from DipNote editor and Foreign Service Officer Ruth Bennett, and her glimpse of the festival in 2006 in Mumbai. In this image, a Ganesh murti has been daubed in red sandalwood paste and kumkum powder and garlanded in flowers for the occasion.
Although the religious holidays this week mark different events and meanings, they share a focus on family and food, on spirituality, and on reaching out to others. Though diverse, their unifying thread celebrates building connections between people -- a universal message that can be shared by everyone.