U.S. Reps. Maloney And Meng, Leaders Of South Asian Communities Rally Support

    NEW YORK, NY (TIP): CongresswomanCarolyn Maloney (D-Manhattan andQueens) joined Congresswoman GraceMeng (D-Queens) and South Asiancommunity leaders led by Ranju Batra,President of the Association of Indians in America-NY to rally grass-roots supportto press the Citizens Stamp AdvisoryCommission of the U.S. Postal Service toissue a postage stamp to honor Diwali, the”festival of lights” observed by Hindus,Sikhs, Christians, Jains, and Buddhists inIndia, the United States, and around theworld.

    “Diwali is an important spiritual andcultural festival along with other majorreligious holidays for which stamps areissued, such as Christmas, Kwanzaa,Hanukkah, and Eid, and it merits similarrecognition,” said CongresswomanMaloney.”Diwali – which literally translatedmeans ‘row of lights’ – is a festive andimportant Indian holiday that also signalsthe start of the Hindu New Year. As one ofthe world’s oldest religious holidays, itserves not only as a time for celebration,but also as an occasion for communitiesand families to convene in spiritual enlightenment.

    The practice of Diwali hassurvived political, economic and socialchanges throughout history, while alwayscarrying the universal symbolism of thevictory of light, goodness, knowledge andtruth.” Congresswoman Maloney said.Ranju Batra said “When I took over aspresident of AIA-NY, I set two goals: Tomake the 25th Silver Diwali celebrationshistory-making, and they were, and tolaser-focus on getting the Diwali Stampissued. I asked my dear friend Rep. CarolynMaloney to take the lead in Congress. I amso delighted to see Congresswoman GraceMeng here in person, and to have thesupport of Steve Israel, Ami Bera and Tulsi Gabbard.

    We need everyone who supportsreligious freedom and mutual respectamongst neighbors to sign on. We nowfinally have a strong core group to make ithappen.”Ravi Batra, attorney and chair ofNational Advisory Council on South AsianAffairs who emceed the meeting, added,”The target audience of the Diwali stampisn’t just 3 million Indian-Americans butover 1 billion in India alone. The sale of aDiwali Stamp would be a much-neededsource of revenue for the US Postal Servicein tough economic times. It may reduceUSPS’ need to raise first class rates for all.”

    “The Postal Service has issued stamps forseveral major religious holidays and nowit’s time for them to do the same forDiwali,” said U.S. Rep. Grace Meng. “Creating a Diwali stamp would be anoutstanding way to recognize and celebratethe vibrancy of the Hindu American andIndian American communities, and salutethe traditions and tremendouscontributions that they’ve made to ournation. Diwali deserves its own stamp, andI’m pleased to join my Congressionalcolleagues in urging the Postal Service tocreate one.”Congressman Steve Israel echoed thesentiments of his fellow New Yorkers,saying “I am proud to cosponsor thisresolution urging the Postal Service toissue a stamp that would recognize thefestival of Diwali, commonly known as the’festival of lights.’

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    The holiday embodies theessential lessons of good triumphing overevil and embracing one’s inner light. Today,I join my colleagues to call on the Citizens’Stamp Advisory Committee to give Diwalithe recognition it deserves and issue acommemorative stamp.”India’s Permanent Representative to theUnited Nations, Ambassador HardeepSingh Puri and Ambassador LakshamiPuri, Deputy Secretary General, Women atthe United Nations also spoke.Others who addressed the gatheringincluded Mayor Ernie Davis, KamleshArya, a former President of AIA, NY andNew York City Council Member LetitiaJames.

    Indian-American Congressman AmiBera, in his statement, said “Diwali is oneof the world’s oldest religious holidays. Itcelebrates goodness and truth and isobserved by people from differentbackgrounds all across the United Statesand around the world. We should honor itsplace in our country’s tradition of religiousdiversity with a postage stamp, as we havedone for many other religious holidays. “Co-host of the lunch meeting SudhirVaishnav, President and CE of GlobosatEntertainment proposed a vote of thanks.

    Background:Diwali traditionally marks the lastharvest of the year before winter and overtime has come to also mark the first day of the new financial year in India. This”festival of lights” marks the triumph ofgood over evil, light above darkness, andinsight and knowledge over ignorance anddisregard. Diwali is celebrated byadherents of many faiths across the world.Congresswoman Carolyn Maloneyintroduced House Resolution 47 on January25th of this year to urge the Citizens’ StampAdvisory Committee, an entity of theUnited States Postal Service, to issue acommemorative stamp in honor of thefestival of Diwali.

    The bi-partisan and bicoastalresolution is co-sponsored byIndian-American Congressman Ami Bera(CA-07), Hindu-American Tulsi Gabbard,(HI-02), and by several members of the NewYork Congressional Delegation includingRep. Grace Meng (NY-06), Rep. Joe Crowley(NY-14), Rep. Steve Israel (NY-03) and Rep.Peter King (NY-02).Founded in 1967, the Association ofIndians in America is the oldestorganization of Indians in the country. TheNew York chapter is a microcosm of theextraordinary diversity of the Indiancommunity in the New York area, withmembers of all regions and religions ofIndia represented across the tri-stateregion.

    AIA prides itself on its tradition ofopenness and respect for persons of allreligious faiths, with members, as well as awide range of professions, backgroundsand occupations. AIA’s New York chapterperforms countless acts of public serviceand philanthropy, reflecting its motto,”Indian Heritage and Americancommitment.” Indeed, AIA-NY celebratedits history-making 25th Silver Diwali with adinner at the Pierre and the festival at theSouth Street Seaport, the largest suchcelebration in North America.

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