The House Foreign Affairs Committee has approved a legislation to recognise the religious and historical significance of Diwali. The legislation was introduced by Congressman Joe Wilson, South Carolina Republican and co-chair of the Congressional Caucus on India and Indian Americans, on the urging of the Hindu American Foundation.
Now the Rules Committee has to schedule a date for the full House to take up this legislation on the floor and vote to formally recognise Diwali. The festival of lights marks the beginning of the Hindu New Year, but is also celebrated widely by Sikhs, Buddhists and Jains.
Wilson told rediff.com, "I am grateful that my fellow members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee chose to show their support for the people of India and the Indian American community by passing this important resolution."
He added, "The Diwali festival is celebrated by nearly two million people here in the United States and by millions around the world. It is an opportunity for the Congress to acknowledge the shared values of kinship, knowledge and goodness celebrated during the five day festival."
Wilson said he looked forward to the consideration of his resolution by the full House of Representatives. He pledged, "I will continue to support the strong and growing partnership between India and the United States."
A key co-sponsor of the resolution, New York Democrat Congressman Joe Crowley told rediff.com, "This legislation underscores the sincere appreciation and respect Congress holds for the Indian American community of the United tates."
"As the representative of one of the largest Indian American communities in the nation, I am proud to celebrate Diwali with my constituents and people of Indian ancestry around the world," added the former co-chair of the India Caucus.
An elated Ishani Chowdhury, executive director of HAF, declared, "It is a matter of pride and satisfaction that House Resolution 747, proposed by Congressman Wilson, has passed through the Foreign Affairs Committee, and now goes to the full floor."
She said, "I am proud that the Hindu American Foundation worked hard over the past two years in bringing this resolution to the floor, and thank all the Congressmen and their staff who have worked diligently on making it happen."