Source: Hindu American Foundation
The Hindu American Foundation (HAF) initiated a coordinated plan this week to raise awareness about the upcoming celebrations of Diwali; perhaps the most widely recognized Hindu festival. Celebrated around the world this year on October 21, Diwali, or Deepavali in the original Sanskrit, refers to the rows of earthen lamps celebrants place around their homes. The light from these lamps, Hindus believe, illumines individuals and societies burdened by ignorance and darkness.
The HAF focus on Diwali this year follows intense discussions held with members of the United States Congress and State Department a month ago where human rights concerns and religious liberty issues predominated. But during those meetings, HAF members also asked lawmakers’ support for House Resolution 548, recognizing the festival of Diwali, or Deepavali as it is known in Sanskrit. The resolution recognizes the central importance the festival holds in the lives of millions of Hindus, Jains and Sikhs in the United States and HAF’s efforts have already resulted in thirty-eight co-sponsors of the bill that was introduced by Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R, FL).
“I am proud to have introduced a resolution that recognizes the religious and historical significance of the Hindu holiday of Diwali,”said Congresswoman Ros-Lehtinen in a message to the Hindu community released to HAF. “The illumination on this important holiday signifies the enlightenment of all individuals as to the importance of religious tolerance and understanding."
The foundation placed messages and Diwali greetings it received from nearly a dozen lawmakers and several prominent leaders from academia, interfaith organizations and other religious traditions on its website in a special section this year. Prominent Christian, Hindu, Jewish and Muslim leaders sent greetings to HAF.