NEW YORK (TIP): America Tamil Sangam and Shri Vari Foundation jointly honored Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney for her untiring efforts to make the Diwali stamp a reality at a musical evening held at St John’s University November 6 night.
America Tamil Sangam thus became the first Indian association to felicitate Maloney. She was draped in a silk zari shawl specially woven in Kanchipuram – the silk city of India -and offered a garland amidst of cheers of the 600 plus audience.
Several speakers including Ambassador Riva Ganguly Das, Consul General of India in New York, Upendra Chivukula, Commissioner of New Jersey Board of Public Utilities and former Deputy Speaker of NJ Assembly, Dr. Sudhir Parikh, Padmashree-awardee and a chairman of Parikh Worldwide Media and Prakash M Swamy, president of America Tamil Sangam, praised the stellar role played by Congresswoman Maloney in the historic announcement of issuance of Diwali stamp.
The U.S. Postal Service commemorated the joyous festival of Diwali this year with a Forever stamp. The first-day-of-issue dedication ceremony took place at the Consulate General of India, New York. For several years, Congresswoman Maloney has headed efforts in Congress to push the Citizens Stamp Advisory Committee (CSAC) to consider issuing a commemorative Diwali stamp.
In 2013, Congresswoman Maloney first introduced House Resolution-47, expressing the sense of the U.S. House of Representatives that the CSAC should issue a Diwali stamp. The resolution had 46 cosponsors. Maloney reintroduced the resolution in 2015 as House Resolution 32, which had 71 cosponsors. Maloney additionally wrote letters to the CSAC in 2010 and 2012 requesting approval of a Diwali commemorative stamp. She never gave up until the stamp which was a dream became a reality.
Prompted by a letter Co-led by Hindu American Foundation (HAF) and Indiaspora a community organization led by M.R. Rangaswamy, of California more than 100 community organizations across the US also petitioned the Citizens’ Stamp Advisory Committee.
Maloney said that the stamp release mark a triumph that truly exemplifies the meaning of Diwali. “After many years, Diwali has finally received its own commemorative stamp, rightfully joining the ranks of other major religious and cultural holidays such as Christmas, Kwanzaa, Hanukkah and Eid. I want to thank the USPS for listening to the voices of the millions of Americans who celebrate this Festival of Lights. I am thrilled that after many years of fighting for this stamp it has finally become a reality.”
“The issuance of the Diwali stamp symbolizes several important things: it displays the strength of the Hindu American community when we unite behind a cause; it celebrates the contributions of our community to America; and most importantly, it acknowledges the strength our country draws from its diversity. This year and for many more, diyas and spirits will shine brighter, as will greetings cards and gift packages sent donning the Diwali stamp,” said Prakash M Swamy, president of America Tamil Sangam.
Congresswoman Maloney presented a House Resolution to honor the service of Swamy in fostering ties between the US and India in the field of culture, music and media. Sangita Singh, Regional Finance Manager of Air-India spoke on the occasion. A souvenir was also released on the occasion.
The event also marked the presentation of Tamil Ratna Award by America Tamil Sangam to Upendra Chivukula being the first ever Indian-American to enter politics. Though born in Andhra Pradesh, he considers himself a Tamilian as he studied engineering in Chennai and speaks chaste Tamil.
The previous recipients of the highest award of the Sangam include composer AR Rahman, Dr. Subramaniam Swamy, MP, Connecticut Assemblyman Dr. Prasad Srinivasan, renowned cardio-thoracic surgeon Dr. Valavanur Subramanian and Dr. Ram Raju, President of New York Health and Hospitals.
Congresswoman Maloney presented House Resolutions in honor of Dr. L. Subramaniam and Kavita Krishnamurthy for their contribution to global music and a US flag flown over the Capitol Hill in Washington. The program ended with a music concert by the couple.
(Based on a press release)