HAF Celebrates Adoption of Diwali Resolution in U.S. Senate
Washington, D.C. (November 15, 2007) - Senate Resolution 299, recognizing the “religious and historical significance of the festival of Diwali,” passed unanimously on November 14, 2007 in the U.S. Senate. Nearly identical to the House Resolution 747 that passed in the full House of Representatives on October 29, 2007, the senate resolution was introduced by Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and was co-sponsored by Senators Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), Carl Levin (D-MI), Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Robert Casey (D-PA). Both resolutions were written with the input of the Hindu American Foundation (HAF), and recognized Diwali as a festival celebrated by Hindus, Jains and Sikhs. The text explains the meaning of the festival, how it is celebrated and describes its religious significance.
"I am delighted that the Senate has agreed to pass this resolution to recognize the religious and historical significance of the festival of Diwali,” said Sen. Menendez. “It is important that we celebrate the great diversity that makes up and strengthens our national fabric, and it gives me great pride to commemorate what Diwali stands for -- a time to be with family, and to pray for health, knowledge, and peace.”
The Board of Directors of the HAF, Mihir Meghani, M.D., Nikhil Joshi, Esq. and Aseem Shukla, M.D. released a joint statement lauding the resolution and welcomed their passage as a testament to the increase in understanding of Hinduism and Hindu Americans that has occurred among U.S. policy makers and elected officials since HAF's inception four years ago.
"These resolutions are symbolic, but we hope that the momentum of this event--where hundreds of legislators voted to recognize a Hindu festival--will inspire Hindu Americans everywhere to work towards Diwali's recognition at the state level, having the festival listed on more calendars, and taking the opportunity to spread awareness of their faith and its festivals at their schools and places of work," the statement read. "The Hindu American Foundation’s focus is on educating people who shape public opinion and public policy in America about Hinduism and issues of concern to Hindu Americans, and these votes show the success we have had the past few years.” They specifically thanked Sen. Menendez, and the co-sponsors of the Senate resolution, for their commitment to the Hindu American community and for encouraging their colleagues to support the resolution.
The passed resolutions have already been distributed at several Hindu temples and at Diwali celebrations throughout the country, according to the Foundation, and these efforts will continue. The HAF Board also congratulated today the determined and persistent efforts of their Director of Public Policy, Ishani Chowdhury, whose efforts on Capitol Hill were specifically recognized by Congressman Joe Wilson (R-SC) in a statement after H.Res 747 passed the House of Representatives. The Director of Development and Outreach, Sheetal Shah, also was in touch with several congressional offices obtaining Diwali greetings and increasing support for the resolutions. Shah recently completed a highly successful Diwali capital campaign--a time when many Hindus contribute to causes they feel deserving of support.