House Resolution 816 IH, 108th Congress, 2nd Session, "Recognizing the
holiday of Diwali. Mr. CROWLEY submitted the following resolution; which was
referred to the Committee on Government Reform.
The resolution reads:
IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, October 4, 2004 RESOLUTION:
Recognizing the holiday of Diwali.
whereas Diwali is an annual festival celebrated by many South Asians
and is particularly significant to Hindus, Sikhs, and Jains;
Whereas for nearly 2,000,000 Indian Americans, Diwali is a time for
thanksgiving, and prayer, for health, knowledge, and peace;
Whereas Diwali falls on the last day of the last month in the lunar calendar
and is celebrated as the beginning of the New Year by Hindus and Jains;
Whereas the word 'Diwali' is a version of the Sanskrit word 'Deepavali,'
which means a row of lamps;
Whereas Diwali is a festival of lights, celebrated in part by the lighting
and display of small oil lamps throughout the home and the community;
Whereas Hindu celebrants of Diwali believe that the rows of lamps symbolize
the light within the individual that rids the soul of the darkness of
Whereas for Hindus, Diwali is a celebration of the return of god following
the vanquishing of demonic forces;
Whereas for Sikhs, Diwali is feted as the day on which the 6th founding Sikh
guru, Guru Hargobind, was released from captivity by the Mughal Emperor
Whereas for Jains, Diwali marks the anniversary of the attainment of Nirvana
by Lord Mahavira, the last of the Tirthankaras (founders of the Jain
Whereas Diwali is a celebration of great importance in Indian-American
communities throughout the United States: Now, therefore, be it
Resolved, That the House of Representatives--
(1) recognizes the historical and cultural significance of Diwali; and
(2) requests that the President issue a proclamation recognizing Diwali.
House Resolution 816 was introduced by Rep. Joseph Crowley (D, NY),
Democratic Chair of the Congressional Caucus on India and Indian Americans,
and was authored with assistance from the Hindu American Foundation (HAF).
"I am pleased to have introduced this resolution recognizing Diwali," said
Representative Joseph Crowley (D, NY) Democratic Chair of the Congressional
Caucus on India and Indian Americans as he introduced the first resolution
recognizing a festival of religious significance to most Indian Americans.
"Diwali is an important day for Indian Americans and Indians around the world
and I am proud to be the sponsor of this resolution," Rep. Crowley continued.
"Diwali is of immense significance to Hindu
Americans, and this resolution introduced by Congressman Crowley captures the
essence of its spiritual and historical importance to Hindus, Jains and
Sikhs," said Aseem Shukla, M.D., Member of the HAF Board of
The Hindu American Foundation, that had hosted a reception on Capitol Hill,
and met with several congressmen to discuss issues of concern to Hindu
Americans, approached contacts made during those visits to consider official
congressional recognition of Diwali.
With official assent, HAF proceeded to provide a draft of such a
resolution. "When the co-chairs of the India caucus, Reps. Crowley and Wilson,
agreed to work with HAF to finalize a resolution on Diwali, we quickly grasped
this unique opportunity to garner official recognition for this most widely
celebrated festival. We have enjoyed an excellent working relationship with
many congressional offices, and we hope to utilize these contacts to gain
widespread support for this resolution," said Sheetal Shah, coordinator of the
HAF Government Interaction Project.
The resolution effort was the latest in a series of actions by HAF to fulfill
stated goals to further understanding of Hinduism and promote the religion's
tenets of tolerance and pluralism.
Mihir Meghani, M.D., President of HAF, explained that the resolution was
aimed at promoting awareness of the growing Hindu American community and
imparting an official recognition to one of their most important festivals.
"This will not only be the first time Hindus and all Indian Americans are
felicitated on Diwali, but in a sense, this resolution is a first step in
bringing Diwali into our nation's mainstream." said Mihir Meghani, M.D.,
President of HAF. "Congressman Crowley has once again demonstrated his sincere
commitment to Hindu American issues by introducing this resolution," Dr.
HPI adds: The resolution has been proposed by Mr. Crowley
and referred to a committee. It has to pass through the committee before being
voted on in the House.