Resolution recognizing Diwali passed in US congress

published on October 26, 2007

Congressional Resolution Celebrating Diwali Passed In House Foreign Affairs Committee

Source: Press Statement-Hindu American Foundation

Washington, DC (October 24, 2007). The leadership at the Hindu American Foundation (HAF) reacted with praise and cautious optimism as a resolution recognizing the religious and historical significance of Diwali, perhaps the most widely celebrated festival for Hindus, Sikhs and Jains, passed the Foreign Affairs Committee of the House of Representatives by a unanimous vote yesterday. The bill, H.Res. 747, calls for the U.S. Congress to acknowledge “the religious and historical significance of the festival of Diwali” and was introduced jointly by Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC) and Jim McDermott (D-WA).

“The Diwali festival is celebrated by nearly two million people here in the United States and many millions more around the world,” said Congressman Wilson soon after the resolution passed. “It is an opportunity for Congress to acknowledge the shared values of kinship, knowledge, and goodness celebrated during the five day festival.” He also called upon the full House of Representatives to take up the bill as soon as possible.

With Diwali approaching on November 9, the HAF office in the Washington, D.C. area remains abuzz with activity as staffers plan their strategy to push for a rapid vote in the full House on H. Res. 747. A similarly worded bill, H. Res. 245, with a matching Senate version, S. Res. 299, has nearly 40 co-sponsors and is awaiting consideration in the House Oversight Committee. The HAF staff actively works with congressional offices to educate members about the religious significance of Diwali and its symbolic celebration of the victory of good over evil.

“Congressmen Wilson and McDermott are tireless advocates on behalf of the Indian-American community, and it was their enthusiastic commitment to recognizing Diwali that ensured its passage through committee,” said Ishani Chowdhury, HAF Executive Director who directs government outreach and education efforts. “Now, more than ever, is the time for supporters of the bill to call their congressional delegation and urge their support for the bill as it moves forward.”

Chowdhury also appreciated the efforts of senior staffers in both offices, such as Dino Teppara, Chief of Staff in Congressman Wilson’s office, for working closely with the HAF and highlighting the significance of the bill throughout the process. Teppara, is one of the most prominent Hindu Americans working on Capitol Hill, and was honored by the HAF at a reception last month.

Chowdhury and Sheetal Shah, the newly appointed marketing director at the HAF, are coordinating a Diwali publicity rollout for next week as part of the foundation’s efforts, as Shah describes, “to present Diwali as a day of as much significance, and as integral to the lives of Hindu Americans as other recognized religious holidays.”

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