Diwali Stamp Coalition Letter

Diwali Stamp Coalition Letter

November 27, 2015


November 5, 2015

Citizens’ Stamp Advisory Committee
475 L’Enfant Plaza SW, Room 3300
Washington, DC 202603501

Dear Committee Members,

The undersigned coalition of organizations, from across the United States, propose to the Citizens’ Stamp Advisory Committee the issuance of a stamp recognizing Diwali. The undersigned compose of a diversity of professional, religious, cultural, linguistic, and social organizations which are positively contributing to their local, state, and national communities in countless ways.

Diwali, the Festival of Lights, is a holiday celebrated by Hindu, Buddhist, Jain, and Sikh communities across the globe. This adds up to some three million celebrants in the United States alone, and over one billion people around the world. Diwali, which usually falls in the months of October or November in accordance with the lunar calendar, brings together families, friends, and communities in goodwill, peace, and a shared sense of renewal. Its significance amongst Hindus, Buddhists, Jains, and Sikhs is diverse, yet the shared spirit of the holiday is reflective of the syncretic and pluralistic ethos within which these communities have flourished.

For Hindus, clay lamps, or diyas, are lit during the five day festival to signify the destruction of all negative qualities through knowledge ­­ be they violence, anger, jealousy, greed, fear, or suffering. In other words, Diwali celebrates the victory of good over evil. Buddhists, especially Newar Buddhists, commemorate Diwali as Ashok Vijayadashami, the day the great Emperor Ashoka embraced Buddhism as his faith. For Jains, Diwali is the day Lord Mahavira, the last of the Jain Tirthankaras (Enlightened Ones), achieved enlightenment or nirvana/moksha. Lastly, Sikhs recognize Diwali to celebrate the release of the Guru Hargobind, one of their spiritual leaders, from captivity by the Mughal Emperor Jehangir. In his honor, lamps were lit all the way to the Golden Temple to welcome his return.

Across the U.S., Diwali has been recognized at the city, county, and state levels through proclamations, resolutions, and days of recognition. It has been celebrated for several years by the White House and Congress, and for the first time in 2014, by the State Department.

In 2007, Congress highlighted the importance of Diwali by passing House Resolution 747 and Senate Resolution 299 to recognize “the religious and historical significance of the festival of Diwali.” Currently, there are resolutions before both houses of the U.S. Congress, S.Res. 113 and H. Res 32, urging the Citizens’ Stamp Advisory Committee to issue a commemorative Diwali stamp. These bipartisan acts of Congress demonstrate, not only the importance of Diwali to Indian Americans, but also the permanent establishment and integration of the Indian American community into this great nation.

The Indian American community includes governors, members of Congress, elected officials, and public servants at all levels of government. It has amongst it award­winning authors, celebrity chefs, actors,TV personalities, Nobel Laureates, and even Miss America titleholders.

The community has yielded scientists, engineers, physicians, analysts, lawyers, judges, entrepreneurs, and CEOs who have made immeasurable contributions within the fields of medicine, technology, science, education, law, and business. And Hindu, Buddhist, Jain, and Sikh temples across the United States flourish alongside churches, mosques, and synagogues, contributing to the overall well­being of their communities.

It is in the spirit of celebration and acknowledgement of an integral facet of the American fabric that we respectfully request that the Citizens’ Stamp Advisory Committee honor the contributions of Indian Americans to both the United States and the world at­-large with the issuance of a Diwali stamp.

Thank you,

Hindu American Foundation |­ Washington, DC

Indiaspora ­| San Francisco, CA

America Together Foundation ­| Washington, DC

American Institute of Vedic Studies |­ Santa Fe, NM

American Jewish Committee |­ Washington, DC

Arsha Vidya Pitham | ­ Saylorsburg, PA

Arsha Vidya Satsanga | ­ Houston, TX

Art of Living Foundation |­ Washington, DC

Arya Samaj Greater Houston |­ Houston, TX

Asian American Hotel Owners Association ­| Atlanta , GA

Balvihar Shri Sanatan Mandir |­ San Bruno, CA

Bangladesh Hindu Buddhist Christian Unity Council |­ New York, NY

Bangladesh Women’s Unity Council |­ New York, NY

Bay Area Youth Vaishnav Parivar ­| Milpitas, CA

Bihar Foundation of USA |­ Fremont, CA

Bishnu Panchayan Mandir ­| Philadelphia, PA

Brahma Kumaris |­ San Antonio, TX

Camp Masala ­| Minneapolis, MN

Center for Spiritual Enlightenment |­ San Jose, CA

Chinmaya Mission West |­ Langhorne, PA

Coalition of Hindu Youth |­ Boston, MA

Code for India ­| Mountain View , CA

Council of Hindu Temples of North America |­ New York, NY

Crossover Basketball and Scholars Academy ­| Boston, MA

Durga Temple of Virginia |­ Fairfax Station, VA

Educators Society for Heritage of India |­ Morganville, NJ

Ekal Vidyalaya Foundation |­ Houston, TX

Federation of Indian Associations (Silicon Valley) |­ Fremont, CA

Federation of Indian Associations (Tampa) |­ St. Petersburg, FL

Forum for Religious Freedom |­ Princeton, NJ

Foundation for Excellence ­| Sunnyvale, CA

Gandhi Square of Florida |­ Davie, FL

Girltank | Atlanta, GA

Global Organization of People of Indian Origin Virginia (GOPIO Virginia) ­| Dunn Loring, VA

GreenFaith |­ Highland Park, NJ

Gujarati Cultural Association of Bay Area ­| Fremont, CA

Gujarati Samaj Of Tampa Bay |­ Tampa, FL

Gummakonda Reddy Foundation |­ Hallandale, FL

Hindu American Political Action Committee |­ Houston, TX

Hindu Charities For America |­ Austin, TX

Hindu Dharma Foundation |­ Houston, TX

Hindu Mandir Executive Conference |­ Iselin, NJ

Hindu Students Association |­ Webster, TX

Hindu Worship Society |­ Houston, TX

Hindus of Greater Houston ­| Houston, TX

Humvatan |­ Great Falls, VA

Ideapoke Inc |­ San Jose, CA

India Awareness Foundation |­ Alpharetta, GA

India Cause |­ Leesburg, VA

India Community Center |­ Milpitas, CA

India Culture Center |­ Houston, TX

India Development and Relief Fund |­ North Bethesda, MD

Indian American Coalition of Texas ­| Austin, TX

Indian Business and Professional Women ­| Milpitas, CA

Indo American Kashmir Forum |­ Darnestown, MD

Indo American Senior Citizens Association of Bergen County, NJ |­ Bergenfield, NJ

Indo American Women’s Group |­ Irvine, CA

International Hindi Association Houston Chapter |­ Houston, TX

International Society for Krishna Consciousness |­ Washington, D.C.

Jagannath Hall & Friends, Inc. |­ New York , NY

Jain Ghar Derasar |­ Dunn Loring, VA

Jain Sangh of Greater Austin, Inc. |­ Austin , TX

Jain Society of Houston |­ Houston, TX

Jain Society of Metropolitan Washington |­ Silver Spring, MD

JustREAD |­ Mountain View, CA

Kannada Koota of Northern California ­| San Ramon, CA

Kannada Koota of Northern California |­ Cupertino, CA

Kiran, Inc. |­ Raleigh , NC

Lead India 2020 Foundation ­| Livingston, NJ

Leuva Patidar Samaj of USA |­ Irving, TX

Leuva Patidar Samaj of USA |­ Brentwood, TN

Main Line Indian Association |­ Villanova, PA

Main Line Indian Association |­ Villanova, PA

New Tampa Gujjus |­ Tampa, FL

Nithyanandeshwara Hindu Temple |­ Milpitas, CA

Overseas Friends of Bharatiya Janata Party, Fremont Chapter |­ Fremont, CA

Overseas Friends of Bharatiya Janata Party, Tampa Chapter |­ Tampa, FL

Overseas Volunteer for a Better India |­ Irving, TX

Param Shakti Peeth of America ­| Plantation, FL

Pratham USA |­ Houston, TX

Sadhana: Coalition of a Progressive Hindus |­ New York, NY

Sahayog Foundation |­ Honolulu, HI

Sankara Eye Foundation |­ Milpitas, CA

Sewa International |­ Houston, TX

Shree Swaminarayan Satsang Mandal of Florida |­ Tampa, FL

South Asian Americans Leading Together |­ Takoma Park, MD

South Asian Bar Association of North America |­ Pittsburgh, PA

South Asian Heart Center |­ Mountain View , CA

South Asian Military Family Support Network |­ Silver Spring, MD

Sri Siva Vishnu Temple |­ Lanham, MD

The American India Foundation |­ New York, NY

The Hindu Temple Society of North America |­ Flushing, NY

United Hindu­Jain Temples Association (UHJT) ­| Washington, DC

United Muslims of America Interfaith Alliance |­ South San Francisco, CA

Vallabh Vidya Mandir |­ Houston, TX

Vedanta Society of Greater Houston |­ Sugar Land, TX

Vyasa |­ Houston, TX

Washington State and Trade Relations Action Committee |­ Seattle, WA

West Michigan Hindu Temple |­ Ada, MI

Yoga Bharati |­ Cupertino, CA

Yuva Pragati Inc |­ Cliffside Park, NJ