Barely a week has passed since the Democratic challenger Joe Biden won the United States Presidential Elections 2020, and it seems the President-elect is already facing heat from Indians on Twitter.
It all started when Biden, who is set to assume office as the US President in January 2021, put out a tweet wishing Indians a Happy Diwali on Saturday.
"To the millions of Hindus, Jains, Sikhs, and Buddhists celebrating the Festival of Lights, @DrBiden and I send our best wishes for a #HappyDiwali. May your new year be filled with hope, happiness, and prosperity. Sal Mubarak," Biden wrote.
Little did he know that his simple tweet was enough to cause controversy in India, where many took issue with Biden use of the term "Sal mubarak" as a Diwali saturation.
Mr Biden, what is this "saal mubarak"? For Diwali it has no meaning & even no connotations. If you don't know how to wish on Diwali, better ask @realDonaldTrump. He can guide you.
— Maharaj 🇮🇳 (@war_echo) November 14, 2020
Many pointed out that "Sal Mubarak" was indeed an "Islamic greeting" and not one used to greet Diwali.
I know that some people use Arabic greetings during Hindu festivals for a variety of historical reasons. I’m Kashmiri.
Doesn’t mean it’s something we all either want to do or should have to do.
Bombay was called Bombay until it wasn’t.
— Sheenie Ambardar, M.D. (@DrAmbardar) November 14, 2020
But but but what this Sal Mubarak has to do with Diwali celebrations? Don't try to be too smart playing with words to ride on two horses. Both will push you down together
— Prof.S.Venugopalan🇮🇳 (@Gopalee67) November 14, 2020
What is "Sal Mubarak"?
However, it seems Desi Twitter got it wrong. "Saal mubarak" is not a reference to any Islamic festival. In fact, Sal Mubarak is used to signify the occasion of Gujarati New Year, celebrated on the day after Diwali in Gujarat. The day is observed by Gujaratis including Paris, Hindus, Jains and Sikhs.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted about it in 2017.
Entire Gujarat consisting millions of Hindus Jains Parsis Sikhs Muslims & our beloved Prime Minister wish it as 'Sal Mubarak'. Next day of Diwali is our new year. So please! & Urdu has nothing to do with Islam, it is one of the greatest languages of India. Period. . pic.twitter.com/Ol9QtgRTYR
— Jay Gandhi (@discoverjay24) November 14, 2020
The greeting, nevertheless, managed to go viral and soon, memes popped up. Many from Gujarat expressed pride over Biden's "saal mubarak" tweet.
Democrats giving special Acknowledgement to Gujaratis by wishing Sal Mubarak.
— Het Daftary (@DaftaryHet) November 15, 2020
You should be a Gujarati to understand !! Tomorrow when PM will greet gujjus with Sal Mubarak, you will get it what I am saying !
— Yash Majiwala (@yash23597) November 15, 2020
TO all those who think about sal mubarak in Gujarat people say sal mubarak as Happy New year ok
— Nature Explorer (@NatureExplore13) November 14, 2020
And while some naysayers took issue with the use of the word "mubarak", others lauded Biden for extending his warm wishes to the Hindu community in the US.
Light comes in many forms. After all the darkness our nation experienced in 2020, I am looking forward to our new President and VP bringing light, hope, and happiness in the new year.
Happy Diwali to all! https://t.co/WsfhAb9HAs
— Sri Preston Kulkarni (@SriPKulkarni) November 14, 2020
Biden: A president that welcomes the festivals of other cultures.
Trump: A "President" who hates everyone except himself https://t.co/RixcFj0VDr
— Dax Gigandet (@DaxGigandet) November 14, 2020
— Shubham Singhal (@ShubhamSinghall) November 14, 2020
"Saal Mubarak" is also used by the Parsi community to celebrate Nauroz, the Zoroastrian New Year celebrated in India and Pakistan. "Saal" means year while "Mubarak" is Arabic for congratulations.