Rep. Maloney Announces Legislation to Make Diwali a Federal Holiday

Nov 3, 2021
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC — Today, Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY), Chairwoman of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, joined with Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL), Congressman Gregory Meeks (D-NY), Chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and New York and national advocates to announce the introduction of the Deepavali Day Act. This legislation would make Diwali a nationally recognized federal holiday.

 

“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,” said Rep. Maloney. “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.”

 

“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.”

 

“I’m proud to support Congresswoman Maloney’s resolution to make Diwali a federal holiday. The United States of America is about celebrating the different cultures that make us one,” said Rep. Meeks. “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.”

 

"For more than 7 million Americans across faiths, cultures and social backgrounds, enacting Deepãvali (or Diwali) as 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. As an educator, community leader and mother, I urge the United States Congress and Senate to pass this landmark legislation allowing all Americans and future generations to come to be able to observe this important holiday as it signifies the democratic values of light and truth triumphing over darkness and untruth as well as strengthening the bonds between the citizenry, families and communities across our nation,” said Dr. Sumita SenGupta, Author, Educator, and Community Leader in New York.

 

"The United States holds the largest population of Deepãvali (or Diwali) observers outside of Asia and for many Americans, the holiday marks the beginning of the new year in which friends, friends and communities come together to celebrate the triumph of light over darkness, knowledge over ignorance, and good over evil. 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,” said Uma SenGupta, District Leader At Large in New York.

 

"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.”

 

Additionally, Dr. Sudhir M. Parikh, Parikh World Wide Media and Senior Advisor of AAPI; Dr. Babu Jasty, Vidyarthi Vigyan Manthan; Mr. Sudharshana SenGupta, Arts4AllFoundation; and Mr. Sudarshana Sengupta were in attendance at the event.

 

View the livestream of the press conference here.

 

Background

For several years, Congresswoman Maloney headed efforts in Congress to push the Citizens Stamp Advisory Committee (CSAC) to consider issuing a commemorative Diwali stamp. In 2013, Congresswoman Maloney first introduced H.Res. 47, expressing the sense of the U.S. House of Representatives that the CSAC should issue a Diwali stamp. The resolution had 46 cosponsors. Maloney reintroduced the resolution in 2015 as H.Res. 32, which had 71 cosponsors. Maloney additionally wrote letters to the CSAC in 2010 and 2012 requesting approval of a Diwali commemorative stamp. After Maloney’s efforts, the Diwali Commemorative Stamp was first issued in 2016.

 

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