It was a historic moment for California’s Hindu American community, when the senate floor at the Capitol unanimously passed the resolution on Monday designating October 2013 as Hindu American awareness and appreciation month.
The bill was authored by state Senate Majority Leader Ellen M Corbett, who said, “As the senator representing the 10th state senate district, I am honoured to represent constituents from many diverse backgrounds including a significant number of Hindu Americans” She said California is home to a thriving community of over 3,70,000 Hindu Americans that enrich “our state’s diversity and professional assets in fields as diverse as academia, science, technology, business, arts and literature”. She thanked her colleagues for supporting the bill that recognises the contributions of Hindu Americans as well as designates October 2013 in their honour.
“It’s great to see that the contribution the Indo-American community is making is now being recognised at the highest levels of the state,” Ro Khanna, former deputy assistant secretary at the US department of commerce in the Obama administration and 2014 Congressional candidate from California district 17 told rediff.com. He said that the Indo-American community was contributing to the economy by creating jobs in California, through entrepreneurship and innovation.
According to Khanna, about 105 people along with various interfaith groups were present at the Capitol on Monday. “I am very proud to see that the community believes in religious pluralism. I am running from the 17th Congressional district and I am fortunate to have people of strong faiths from different backgrounds that make our state and country stronger. I am a big believer in religious pluralism and also that people of various faiths should have a voice in public debate. "
“I am a proud American and like an American I think all different faiths should be respected,” he added.
Answering a question on why it took so long for the state to recognise the Hindu community, Khanna said it takes a community’s decades of involvement. “It takes a decade to start and to establish a political voice.”
"This is the first time any resolution recognising Hindus has ever been passed in the entire country," said Samir Kalra, director and senior fellow for human rights, Hindu American Foundation. "It is the beginning of the great movement for Hindu Americans in California" Kalra told rediff.com. "It was historic, so it feels great." He said today it's at the state level and hopes one day it will reach at the national level.
Kalra said the Foundation helped draft the bill and the measure would "recognise and acknowledge the significant contributions made by Californians of Hindu heritage to the state."
Starting October, the HAF will work with the City Hall in California and schools and help them commemorate the event by hosting educational actives and teach and create awareness about Hinduism in general. "The HAF is doing this for next generation, so that they feel proud about their culture."
Image: Ro Khanna, former deputy assistant secretary at the US department of commerce in the Obama administration and 2014 Congressional candidate from California district 17, at the state Capitol