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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2525

United States Congress, in a Resolution, Recognizes Hindu ‘Diwali’ Festival

Daya Gamage – US National Correspondent Asian Tribune

Washington, D.C. 02 November (Asiantribune.com): The United States has been recognizing cultural, social and ethnic diversity for two centuries, and social norms and laws are well in place to guarantee that diversity. A land mark in the United States history was created last month when the House of Representative, the lower chamber of the Congress, unanimously passed a resolution recognizing the importance of ‘Diwali’ the most sacred and important religious festival for the Hindus, Sikhs and Jains.

There are three million Hindus, Sikhs and Jains in the United States.

The leaders of the Hindu American Foundation (HAF) were jubilant on October 24 as a bill recognizing "the religious and historical significance of the festival of Diwali" passed in the full United States House of Representatives by a mammoth margin of 358 to 0.

House resolution 747 was introduced jointly by Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC) and Jim McDermott (D-WA) and with its passage becomes the first bill to ever pass the House recognizing a Hindu festival that is also marked by Sikhs and Jains.

Intending to have the bill passed prior to November 9, when Diwali will be celebrated this year, the bill was introduced and passed in the Foreign Affairs Committee of the House previously and moved quickly to the successful full vote today.

"My resolution acknowledges the international, religious, and historical importance of the festival of Diwali as well as the religious diversity in India, the United States, and throughout the world," said Congressman Wilson in a statement that was read on the floor of the House prior to the vote today. "It shows our support for the strong and growing partnership and dialogue in international efforts between the United States and India." Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) also took the floor to speak on behalf of the bill.

In his statement, Congressman Wilson acknowledged the HAF's key role in promoting the bill and for working closely with his office to get the bill passed. Ishani Chowdhury, HAF Executive Director, hailed the bill passage as a momentous event in the history of the Hindu American diaspora, and reaffirmed the HAF's commitment to see a matching Senate resolution, S.Res 299, also passed.

"Today, the U.S. House made history in recognizing that the religious and cultural heritage of Hindu Americans is as significant as any in our pluralistic society," said Chowdhury shortly after the vote. "We are so thankful that two years of determined effort culminated in the historic vote that will make for a very joyous Diwali this year...today would not have been possible without the unstinted efforts of some very committed supporters and congressional leaders."

The Hindu American Foundation is a non-profit, non-partisan organization promoting the Hindu and American ideals of understanding, tolerance and pluralism in the United States.

- Asian Tribune -

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