Diwali federal holiday bill introduced in US Congress

Washington: United States lawmakers led by Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney from New York, introduced a bill on November 3 to declare Diwali a national holiday in the country. The lawmaker announced the Deepavali Day Act in the House of Representatives. The historic legislation is being supported by a number of lawmakers including Indian American Rep Raja Krishnamoorthi, who also introduced a resolution in the US Congress to recognize the religious and historical significance of the festival of lights.

Making the announcement, Maloney said that celebrations like Diwali will help the US achieve the wish of becoming a beacon of happiness. “I’m very, very happy and excited to be introducing the Deepavali Day Act this week alongside members of the Congressional Indian caucus, which will enshrine Diwali into law as a federal holiday,” Maloney  said at an event at the US Capitol. Five years ago she had helped with getting USPS to release a Diwali stamp.

Maloney added that the festival of lights in 2021 symbolized the nation’s fight against COVID-19 and its journey out of the darkness caused by the pandemic. “My colleagues, Indian-American community leaders and I believe that there is no better time to enshrine Diwali as a federal holiday than in the wake of this terrible dark pandemic,” she argued.

In support, Congressman Krishnamoorthi said, “On this holiday of Diwali, we should say, be the light you wish to see in the world. Be the light in your community that is needed to dispel the darkness. Let us be the light that helps the least and the last. And that is why Diwali needs to be a federal holiday.” Diwali is also about celebrating Indian-Americans, he said.

Congressman Gregory Meeks, Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, supported the legislation and said that American society must share the spirit of Diwali.

The legislation was written by Dr. Sumita SenGupta, an educator and community leader in New York who reached out to Congresswoman Maloney along with prominent New York South Asian leaders including Dr. Sudhir M. Parikh, Dr. Urmilesh Arya and Dr. Susmita Jasty to enact Diwali as the holiday aligns with the democratic values of righteousness, light, truth, inclusion and justice.

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