WASHINGTON, DC: Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) introduced Senate Resolution 299, ?recognising the religious and historical significance of the festival of Diwali.? The resolution affirms the importance of the festival in the lives of millions of Hindus, Jains and Sikhs in the United States. The resolution also lauds the Hindu American Foundation for promoting the recognition of this festival nationally. This is now a bicameral effort, following the introduction of House Resolution 245, cosponsored by Rep. Joe Wilson (R- SC) and Rep. Jim McDermott (D-WA) earlier this year.
Senator Menendez said, ?With over 180,000 Indian Americans living in New Jersey today, I am proud to have introduced a resolution to recognise the religious and historical significance of the festival of Diwali. It is important that we celebrate the great diversity that makes up and strengthens our national fabric, and it gives me great pride to commemorate what Diwali stands for ? a time to be with family, and to pray for health, knowledge, and peace.?
?At HAF, we have made the public recognition of Diwali a major focus of our work this year,? said Ishani Chowdhury, Executive Director of HAF. ?We commend the efforts of Senator Menendez and others in making our traditions a celebrated part of the fabric of mainstream American life. This bicameral Senate and House initiative further moves the dream of HAF and the Indian American community closer to fruition.?
Perhaps the most widely recognised Hindu festival, Diwali/Deepavali will be celebrated globally this year on November 9. Diwali, or Deepvali, is known as the ?Festival of Lights,? referring to the rows of earthen lamps celebrants place around their homes. The light symbolises the victory of knowledge over ignorance, and goodness over evil. It further represents an awareness of God in our lives.
In addition to its symbolic significance, many Hindus believe that Diwali marks the day that Lord Rama returned from a forced exile after defeating the ultimate force of evil in His time. The festival is celebrated over five days throughout India, marking the end of the Hindu calendar year. In addition to Hindus, Sikhs celebrate Diwali in commemoration of the release of the Sixth Guru, Hargobind, from captivity by the Mughal emperor Jehangir. Jains recognise Diwali as the day Lord Mahavira, the last of the tirthankaras, attained nirvana, or liberation, after his death in 527 BCE.
This Bill is in the first step of the legislative process. Introduced Bills must be deliberated and revised within committee before general debate. (FOC)