Washington, DC – Americans of Indian heritage campaigning for a commemorative stamp to honor Diwali, the Festival of Lights, got a shot in the arm as Senate India Caucus Co-Chairs Democrat Senator from Virginia Mark Warner and Republican Senator from Texas John Cornyn submitted a resolution on Thursday calling for the US Postal Service to issue a commemorative stamp in honor of the holiday.
“This commemorative stamp is an important recognition of the significance of Diwali to the more than three million Indian Americans and one billion Indians worldwide who celebrate this holiday,” Senator Warner said.
“A stamp commemorating Diwali is a significant and meaningful way to honor the importance of the Festival of Lights to so many Indian Americans, both in Texas and across the country,” said Senator Cornyn.
Welcoming the resolution, Ranju Batra, Chair, Diwali Stamp Project said in a statement to Indian American Times, “As chair of the Diwali Stamp Project and president of Association of Indians in America-NY, having celebrated the largest Diwali in North America – per New York Times about 200,000 celebrants – I welcome and applaud the principled bipartisan leadership of Senators John Cornyn and Mark Warner in introducing a Senate Resolution.”
“While we have gathered thousands upon thousands of signatures and letter-petitions, the USPS has not found it fitting to also recognize Diwali – even as it is celebrated by almost 1.5 billion people on earth – Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, Buddhists,” Batra added.
Earlier in January this year, five influential American lawmakers also introduced a resolution in the House of Representatives calling on the USPS to issue a postal stamp to commemorate the festival.
Introduced by Congresswoman Carolyn B Maloney from New York, the resolution is co-sponsored by lawmakers Mike Honda, Ami Bera, Tulsi Gabbard and Grace Meng. “Despite the significance of this holiday to many Americans, the United States Postal Service has not yet recognized Diwali with a commemorative stamp, as it has with other major religious and cultural holidays such as Christmas, Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, and Eid,” said Maloney.
“It celebrates ideas that Americans believe in – good over evil, light over darkness, knowledge over ignorance. The millions of Americans who celebrate Diwali deserve to have their holiday afforded the same recognition and respect as the USPS has already shown for Christmas, Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, and Eid,” Honda said.
Indian American lawmaker Bera asserted, “Diwali is a celebration of goodness over evil observed by millions of Americans each year and it should get the same acknowledgement as many other major religious holidays do with a commemorative stamp.”
Gabbard, the only Hindu American lawmaker,commented, “The Citizens Stamp Advisory Committee should recognize Diwali, its universal message of selflessness and righteousness, and the diversity that exists within our country.”
“The Postal Service has issued stamps for several major religious holidays, and now it’s time that the agency does the same for the Festival of Lights as well,” Meng said.
The lawmakers had also provided the financially ailing USPS with economic benefits associated with its issuance. There are over 3 million Indian Americans in the US. The sale of the Diwali stamp could provide the USPS with a much-needed revenue surge, said the media release issued by the lawmakers.
Diwali, also known as the “festival of lights,” is an Indian holiday that marks the beginning of the Hindu New Year. It celebrates the triumph of good over evil, the awareness of one’s inner light, the dispelling of ignorance, and bringing peace and joy through the awakening gained from a higher knowledge.
As the Co-Chairs of the bipartisan Senate India Caucus, Senators Cornyn and Warner have worked to engage Indian Americans and Indian government officials to expand cooperation between the United States and India, the world’s largest democracy.