Diwali Stamp to be Unveiled October 5: Air India announces Raffle for free travel to India

Consul General of India in New York, Riva Ganguly Das (center) addresses mediapersons at the press conference to announce the arrangements for the unveiling of the Diwali Commemorative stamp, September 21. Ranju Batra, Chair of the Diwali Stamp Project is to her left and, to her right is Ravi Batra - Photo/ Vijay Shah
Consul General of India in New York, Riva Ganguly Das (center) addresses mediapersons at the press conference to announce the arrangements for the unveiling of the Diwali Commemorative stamp, September 21. Ranju Batra, Chair of the Diwali Stamp Project is to her left and, to her right is Ravi Batra - Photo/ Vijay Shah

NEW YORK CITY (TIP): Almost a decade long struggles to have a US postal stamp to commemorate the best known Indian festival bore fruit in August when the USPS conveyed to Ranju Batra, Chair of the Diwali Stamp Project that a Forever stamp will be issued to commemorate Diwali. The unveiling of the commemorative stamp was fixed for October 5.

The Diwali Stamp. The Diya is photographed by Sally Andersen-Bruce of New Milford, CT and the stamp has been designed by Greg Breeding of Charlottesville, VA while William J. Gicker of Washington, DC is the project's art director. Photo / courtesy USPS
The Diwali Stamp. The Diya is photographed by Sally Andersen-Bruce of New Milford, CT and the stamp has been designed by Greg Breeding of Charlottesville, VA while William J. Gicker of
Washington, DC is the project’s art director.
Photo / courtesy USPS

The USPS decision received the expected welcome from those who had been working to have it issued, and the community. On August 23, Ranju Batra, Chair of the Diwali Stamp Project and Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney who had moved tin the Congress the bill for the Diwali Stamp, invited members of the community to formally announce that the USPS had agreed to release a Diwali commemorative stamp.

And now the Consulate General of India, New York, in association with the United States Postal Service (USPS) and the Indian community is hosting the inaugural ceremony of Diwali Stamp release around noon on October 5 at its premises (3 East 64 Street, New York). Following the ceremony, purchase and cancellation of the stamps for collectors and customers will be facilitated at the Consulate. This was announced by Ranju Batra, in the presence of the Consul General Riva Ganguly Das, at a press conference at the Consulate, September 21.

Speaking on the occasion, Raju Batra described the efforts which went in to realizing her cherished dream of having a Diwali stamp issued. She said, many before her had tried and failed. But she was resolved to go all the way and rest not till the stamp was issued. She ascribed success in her effort to many who lent their support to her mission. Beginning with the encouragement and support she got from her husband, Ravi Batra, she went on to describe how Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney proved to be the chief catalyst. She named a couple of other politicians and some community leaders who, she said, were a great support. She thanked them all.

In her address to the gathered media, Consul General Das said the release of the Diwali Stamp was a recognition of the contribution and the strength of the Indian American community. She said she was happy and proud at the achievement made possible with the concerted effort of the community and under the leadership provided by Ranju and Ravi Batra.

The Regional Manager of Air India Vandana Sharma who could not make it to the press conference on account of an injury was represented by the District Manager, Sales Mohan Kothekar who read out Ms Sharma’s message. A part of the message dealt with the Air India’s offer to give 10 tickets for free travel to India to buyers of the Diwali stamp through a raffle draw on October 5 at the Consulate.

Commodore (Retired) Rajeev Sharma was also present at the event.

Air India is sponsoring 10 free round trip tickets to India to drive up the Diwali stamp sales at the launch. “Every person who comes to the Oct 5 dedication and buys even 1 set of 20 stamps or buys by pre-order will have a chance to win 1 round trip ticket to India! In addition, those who buy multiples of 10 sheets of stamps will get one chance per 10 Sheets; the more sheets you buy, more chances you get,” informed Ranju Batra. In addition, anyone who buys $10,000 or more worth of Diwali stamps by Pre-Sale will get 1 round trip ticket (limited to first 7 free India tickets).

Around the time of the dedication ceremony attended by high officials from United States Postal Services (USPS), Diwali Stamp sales and Pre-Sale Orders Pick Up will begin. Winners of the free Air India roundtrip tickets will be selected and announced on the same day.

The Stamp Purchase Form
The Stamp Purchase Form

Ravi Batra clarified that only Pre-Order Retail Forms received by the Diwali Stamp Project by October 3 are eligible for Air India Free Raffle Roundtrip Ticket per the rules.

“Only Pre-Order Retail Forms received by Diwali Stamp Project on or before October 3, 2016 are eligible for Air India Free Raffle Roundtrip Ticket per the rules. Raffle Drawing will occur on 10/5/16 at CGI – 3 East 64 Street, Manhattan. Attendance at the historic Diwali Stamp Dedication is most welcome and encouraged as our Community’s show of force and heartfelt thanks to USPS for the Diwali Stamp and for Air India’s support of the historic Diwali Stamp”, said Ravi Batra.

Ravi Batra cautioned: “Do not mail this Pre-Order form to USPS, as you will not be eligible for the Air India Free Raffle.”¬† The form must be mailed by September 27, 2016 to:

Ranju Batra

Chair, Diwali Stamp Project

The Batra Building

142 Lexington Ave

New York, NY 10016.

All questions, please contact Ranju Batra via email ranjubatra@aol.com or cell 9148825670.

Diwali Stamp Project committee. L to R: Ravi Batra, Ranju Batra, Mohan Kothekar, Srujal Parikh, Rajeev Sharma
Diwali Stamp Project committee. L to R: Ravi Batra, Ranju Batra, Mohan Kothekar, Srujal Parikh, Rajeev Sharma

TV Asia is also promoting sales of the Diwali stamp with the Pre-Sale TV Asia Tour in New Jersey, Washington DC, Atlanta, Chicago, Houston and San Francisco.

The Forever Stamp with which the U.S. Postal Service will commemorate the joyous festival of Diwali is aesthetically designed & features a traditional diya, an oil lamp, set on sparkling gold background. The photograph of the diya, which is symbolic of Diwali, was shot by Sally Andersen-Bruce of New Milford, Connecticut. The design is by Greg Breeding of Charlottesville, Virginia. William J. Gicker from Washington, DC, is the project’s art director.

At the Wednesday press conference at the consulate, Ravi Batra, Chair, Nat’l Advisory Council South Asian Affairs, said, “From Indian tea starring in the Boston Tea Party in 1773, the start of the American Revolution, destiny has beckoned United States and India to be the closest allies. It may have taken over 200 years, the end of the Cold War and the Civil Nuclear Deal, but the Forever Diwali Stamp represents nothing short of respectful inclusive indivisibility: E Pluribus Unum -within America and between two sovereigns. That the Diwali Stamp Project’s campaign successfully sought hardworking Rep. Carolyn Maloney’s national leadership, and later even President Obama’s and Prime Minister Modi’s support speaks to soft power’s beneficial effects in nations and communities embracing as a vehicle for greater peace & security around the world.”

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