By Shailendra Kumar, MD
Riverdale, MD: Finally, the Diwali postage stamp issuance by the United States Postal Service (USPS) is gathering momentum. This ancient and joyous holiday, with origin in the Hindu faith, reflects both the unity and the rich diversity of the people and culture of over a billion people in about 120 countries, including the USA, the UK, India, and Nepal. It is widely celebrated all over the world by Hindu, Sikh, Jains, Christians, Muslims and others, like Christmas. The stamp will also acknowledge the many contributions of Indian-Americans in all walks of life in the USA.
Freedom of religion is the hallmark of the United States of America. The US Postal Department has rightly honored Christmas, Hanukkah, Chinese New Year, Kwanzaa, and Eid. According to the former President William J. Clinton, Diwali presents all of us with an opportunity to reflect on the many ways the talent, history, and traditions of the Indian people, who have contributed to our national life and cultural heritage and to give thanks for the extraordinary diversity that is one our nation’s greatest strengths. Diwali, the festival of lights, leads us from darkness (ignorance) to light (knowledge) and is celebrated to signify the victory of truth and righteousness over the evil.
Nearly half a million signatures have been sent to the USPS in favor of these wishes. Over three million Indian Americans have worked with the Capitol Hill and many resolutions have been passed for the same. Since the year 2000, all Presidents have issued Diwali greetings or celebrated it at the White House. For the past five years, the proposal has been under consideration at the Stamp Advisory Committee. This request meets and exceeds all the requirements for issuance of a stamp. In an October 2012 correspondence, the USPS acknowledges the significance of the holiday, admits that it has met all the requirements and the matter of issuance of a Diwali postage stamp is under consideration.
(Shailendra Kumar, M.D., is the chairman of Committee for the Diwali Postage Stamp).