U.S. lawmakers announce legislation to make Diwali a Federal holiday

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Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, D-NY, announcing the introduction of legislation on making Diwali a national holiday, Nov. 3, 2021, in Washington, D.C., as Congressmen Raja Krishnamoorthi, D-Illinois, and Gregory Meeks, D-NY, right, look on. Photo: ITV Gold

Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney, D-NY, chairwoman of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, joined on Nov. 3, 2021, with Congressmen Raja Krishnamoorthi, D-IL, and Gregory Meeks, D-NY, chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and New York, as well as national advocates to announce the introduction of the Deepavali Day Act. This legislation would make Diwali a nationally recognized federal holiday.

The announcement was carried live on Rep. Maloney’s twitter account.

The new Mayor-elect of New York City, Eric Adams, has declared he was committed to “sign (Diwali) into a holiday” when he takes office Jan. 1, reported the news outlet thecity.nyc.

Maloney supported by several lawmakers, is going national with that idea.

“I want to start by wishing a Happy Diwali to all those celebrating around the world this week as the time of reflection and renewal that marks the Hindu New Year comes to a close,” Rep. Maloney said in the live Tweet.  “This beautiful festival celebrates lightness over dark, goodness over evil, and knowledge over ignorance. My bill today recognizes the importance of this beautiful holiday and gives it the respect and acknowledgement it deserves.”

Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi, D-Illinois, speaking Nov. 3, 2021, on the legislation to make Diwali a national federal holiday. He is flanked by Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-NY, left, and Rep. Gregory Meeks, D-NY, right. Photo: ITV Gold

“I’m proud to join Chairwoman Maloney and our colleagues in introducing this legislation to establish Diwali as a federal holiday in recognition of its importance to our nation’s more than three million Americans of Indian descent, including Hindus, Sikhs, and Jains,” said Rep. Krishnamoorthi. “The meaning of this legislation extends beyond honoring the significance of Diwali to the Indian-American community to acknowledging the contributions of Indian-Americans to our nation.”

Rep. Meeks also expressed his support, saying, “The United States of America is about celebrating the different cultures that make us one. I understand the importance of the festival of lights and hope we can soon make this a reality for members of the Indian diaspora in my district and Indian Americans all over the country.”

“Every year, I join more than 6 million Americans in celebrating Diwali, a festival of lights, signifying the victory of light over darkness,” said Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA). “I am proud to cosponsor this bill with Representative Maloney to recognize Diwali as a federal holiday and know how meaningful this will be to many families across the country.”

Dr. Sumita SenGupta, author and educator, speaking Nov. 3, 2021, at an event to announce the introduction of legislation in Congress to make Diwali a national holiday. Photo: ITV Gold.

Dr. Sumita SenGupta, author, educator, and community leader in New York noted that more than 7 million Americans across faiths, cultures and social backgrounds, making Diwali a National Holiday “commemorates America’s long standing commitment to being a country that celebrates liberty, light, religious freedom and cultural diversity for all people.”

According to a mailing sent out by those involved in this initiative, the National Deepavali Day Act legislation was written by Dr. Sumita SenGupta. She reached out to Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney to introduce the bill. In New York, this effort and bill is supported by Dr. Sudhir Parikh, chairman and CEO of Parikh Worldwide Media and ITV Gold and senior advisor to the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin, Dr. Urmilesh Arya, Uma SenGupta, Dr. Susmita Jasty and Dr. Babu Jasty.Also present was Sunil Joshipura of Indiaspora, the mailing from Dr. Sumita SenGupta said.

“Please help us make history and support Deepavali/Diwali to become a national holiday … as we are organizing a national movement to make this a law,” said the mailing from Sumita SenGupta.

District Leader At Large in New York Uma Sengupta said the U.S. has the largest population of Diwali observers outside Asia, and for them it marks the beginning of the new year.  “As the first Indian American elected official in the State of New York, I understand the importance of communities being able to celebrate the festival of lights freely and through the passage of Deepãvali Holiday Act, all Americans will be able to fully observe the holiday without discrimination or persecution,” she said.

“For humanity, the biggest struggles stem from inequality, unrighteousness and tyranny. Similar to Christmas, Memorial Day, Veterans Day, Thanksgiving, Independence Day and Juneteenth, on Deepãvali we reflect and celebrate the victory over the darkest times in our history to recommit ourselves towards ushering in a new period of peace, enlightenment and prosperity. Deepãvali is a holiday that transcends religion, culture or class and I support the Deepãvali National Holiday Act to become law,” said Dr. Urmilesh Arya, National President of the Association for Indian Americans.

“On Deepãvali which is celebrated on the new moon day in the darkest night of the year, we light lamps of knowledge reflecting the compassion in our hearts, the warmth in our homes and communities, our commitment to social service and that we are all one interconnected people. Establishing Deepãvali as a national holiday honors and celebrates the rich cultural fabric of our nation and highlights the importance of liberation and knowledge bringing wisdom in times of darkness,” said Dr. Susmita Jasty, Director of Outreach of the Art of Living Foundation, New York.

“Diwali, the Festival of Lights, is recognition of the light within all of us,” said Sanjeev Joshipura, the Executive Director of Indiaspora. “Observed by a plurality of faiths, including Sikhs, Jains, Hindus and Buddhists, it is an acknowledgement to pursue the good that is there in all of us, and we hope that is a message that can be universally shared.”

For more information on the national legislation campaign for Diwali, contact Dr. Sumita SenGupta at 917-637-0603 and email dr.ssengupta@yahoo.com

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