Source: Hindu American Foundation
WASHINGTON, D.C. (March 29, 2007) – The Hindu American Foundation (HAF) welcomed the introduction of House Resolution 245, recognizing the festival of Diwali, or Deepavali as it is known in Sanskrit. The resolution recognizing the significance of the festival in the religious and cultural life of over two million Hindus, Sikhs and Jains in the United States was referred to the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform by Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC) and Rep. Jim McDermott (D-WA), co-chairs of the Congressional India Caucus. A similar resolution introduced in the 109th Congress in 2006 by Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), also at the Foundation’s urging, garnered over thirty-five cosponsors.
"As millions of Hindus, Sikhs, and Jains have migrated to the United States over the years, it is important their cultural traditions be respected by their fellow countrymen,” said Congressman Wilson in a statement after introducing the resolution. “This resolution represents Congress' commitment to Americans of South Asian heritage and recognizes their contribution to the United States."
Diwali is celebrated in the fall and refers to the rows of earthen lamps celebrants place around their homes. According to the resolution, “celebrants of Diwali believe that the rows of lamps symbolize the light within the individual that rids the soul of the darkness of ignorance...and is a celebration of the victory of good over evil.”
In a statement released to the Hindu American Foundation, Congressman McDermott said, “America is a great melting pot of cultures, but one of the strengths of our nation is respecting and preserving the traditions unique to our ethnicities, and that's why I want Congress to officially recognize the festival of Diwali."
Asserting that recognizing Diwali will enable understanding of the religious and cultural background of Hindus, Sikhs and Jains, Congressman McDermott added, “Understanding one another is essential to living in peace, here at home, and around the world.”