US Lawmaker Grace Meng, on Friday, introduced a bill in the US Congress seeking to declare the Hindu festival Diwali a federal holiday. The festival would become the 12th nationally declared holiday in the US if the Diwali Day Act is approved by Congress and signed into law by the President.
"Today, I was proud to announce the introduction of the #Diwali Day Act, my bill that would make Diwali a federal holiday. Thank you to all my government colleagues and the many advocates who joined me to express their support," Meng tweeted on Saturday.
The Hindu-Indian diaspora in the US welcomed this move by the lawmaker. Assemblywoman Jenifer Rajkumar of New York praised the decision saying, "This year, we saw our entire state speak with one voice in support of recognising Diwali and the South Asian community."
“With her historic legislation to declare Diwali a federal holiday, Congresswoman Meng, my exceptional partner in government, is now expanding the movement across the country. We are demonstrating that Diwali is an American holiday as a group. Your government sees and hears the more than 4 million Americans who celebrate Diwali”, she continued.
Senator Jeremy Cooney of New York State praised Meng for her ongoing efforts to raise awareness of the Asian-American community noting that designating Diwali as a national holiday not only respects individuals who observe it but also draws attention to a cultural custom that some Americans do not usually participate in.
New York City Councilman Shekar Krishnan noted the importance of Diwali, the festival of lights, and the significance it holds for South Asian and Indo-Caribbean communities.
"I am incredibly happy to endorse Congresswoman Meng's plan to create 'Deepavali' as a federal holiday as the first Indian American ever elected to the NYC government. Children like my own must be allowed to formally observe our holidays with their families in a way that I was unable to do when I was a kid, he said.
Lawmaker Meng, the First Vice Chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, commented that Diwali festivities are a lovely time in Queens, and added that it is increasingly apparent every year how significant the day is to so many individuals. The varied experiences, cultures, and groups that make up our country are what give it its strength, she noted.
“My Diwali Day Act is a start in the direction of educating all Americans about the significance of this day and recognising all facets of American culture. I'm excited to guide this law through Congress”, she said.
Nikunj Trivedi, president of the Coalition of Hindus of North America, lauded Congresswoman Meng and said that this joyful festival, observed by millions of Americans, represents the triumph of good over evil and of light over darkness. It also fosters harmony among people from all backgrounds together and celebrates goodness, well-being, peace, and prosperity.
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