Written by Naina Mahajan, a grade 6 student.
Diwali has always been a big festival for Indians all over the world.
It is celebrated all over the country with great gusto, with preparations beginning weeks, sometimes even months, in advance. Diwali is a national holiday, and in some places, it is so for two days.
It’s like Christmas, Thanksgiving, and the Fourth of July combined. There are many different reasons people celebrate Diwali.
The primary one is that it celebrates the return of Lord Rama to Ayodhya after fourteen years in exile, after killing Ravana and rescuing his wife, Sita. Another one is Goddess Lakshmi killing Mahishasura. In many places, Goddess Lakshmi is worshipped and diyas are lit to guide her to their homes and bless them with prosperity and wealth.
Diwali is a holiday in some countries, like Singapore and Sri Lanks, but not in western countries.
Now, US lawmakers have recently passed a bill in Congress to make Diwali a federal holiday.
What’s a federal holiday?
In the USA, a federal holiday is basically a national holiday that is announced by the national (federal) government. So, when the lawmakers proposed that Diwali become a federal holiday, they were saying they want Diwali to become a national holiday in the USA, with the same importance people give to holidays like Thanksgiving, Christmas, etc.
What’s a bill?
A bill is a proposal that members of Parliament make to appeal for laws or new rules. All laws start of as bills and are put to vote; with a majority vote the law is passed and with a minority vote, the law is not passed.
Who proposed this bill in Congress?
New Yorker Democrat Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney first set out to introduce the bill and was joined by members of the India Caucus ([US] a caucus is a conference of members of a legislative body who belong to a particular party. Suffice it to say that the Senate India Caucus helps develop a better relationship between India and the United States.) Congressman Ro Khanna and Congressman Raja Krishanmoorthi, among others, and Congressman Gregory Meeks of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. They declared the introduction of the Deepavali Day Act on Wednesday (3/11/2021).
Rep (Representative) Maloney also previously led efforts in Congress and urged the US Postal Service to approve a Diwali-themed stamp, which has been in circulation since 2016. She fought for this cause because she felt “a relatively small action would hold great meaning for millions of people.”