Indian American Impact highlights role of state lawmakers in bills on holidays relevant to community

Indian American legislators at state level who have contributed to pushing bills relating to holidays relevant to the community. PHOTO: Indian American Impact

Indian American Impact, an advocacy organization that supports Desi candidates for various offices around the country, highlighted the lawmakers at state level instrumental in pushing bills calling for holidays important to the community.

During AAPI Heritage Month, Impact celebrated its When #DesisVote initiative, “which shines a light on the incredible achievements of South Asian elected leaders who embody the spirit of representation and empowerment,” a May 10, 2023, press release from the organization said.

It featured state senators and representatives who are making significant efforts to recognize and commemorate important South Asian holidays and AAPI heritage events via legislation that due to the historical lack of representation in state legislatures, have never been brought to the table, Impact noted.

Following are some of the notable elected representatives who have taken up the issue of Indian American holidays highlighted by Impact:

In New Mexico, Representative Szcepanski played a pivotal role in passing HB274, which established Asian American, Pacific Islander, and Native Hawaiian Day earlier this year.

In New York, Assemblymember Rajkumar has taken the lead in championing A00628A, which seeks to recognize Diwali as a school holiday. Senators Cooney and Thomas have made notable strides in recognizing the cultural diversity and importance of AAPI holidays by introducing legislation to establish the New York Asian American and Pacific Islander Commission and designating Eid al-Fitr, Eid al-Adha, Diwali, and Onam as school holidays.

Likewise, in Pennsylvania, Senator Saval and Representative Venkat have led the way in passing bills in both the PA Senate and House to officially recognize Diwali under state law. In Michigan, Representatives Puri and Aiyash have introduced bills to establish Diwali, Vaisakhi, Eid al-Fitr, and Eid al-Adha as state holidays. In Texas, Representatives Bhojani and Lalani have successfully passed a bill in the House that allows excused absences for religious holidays such as Eid and Diwali without requiring documentation from a religious leader.

Finally, in Ohio, Representative Somani has introduced legislation to designate October as Hindu Heritage Month.

“These initiatives demonstrate the importance and impact of having representation in the room when drafting legislation and a steadfast commitment to inclusivity and cultural awareness,” Impact said. “We applaud these elected officials for their unwavering dedication to recognizing the contributions and traditions of our communities,” it added.



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