In 2007, Indian Americans cheered when Congress officially recognized the significance of Diwali… In 2009, President Obama became the first president to light the diya himself…
In 2015, we want to send our American Diwali celebration worldwide!
Indiaspora is joining the ranks of enthusiasts calling for the U.S. Postal Service to create a postage stamp to recognize Diwali in time for next year’s celebrations. Today, Indiaspora is launching www.DiwaliStamp.com to serve as an online rallying point for the campaign.
And we need your help to bring the stamp to reality!
As most of you are well aware, Diwali is an annual autumn festival recognizing the victory of light over darkness, knowledge over ignorance, good over evil, and hope over despair. Five days of rituals culminate in a big celebration distinguished by the lighting of oil lamps, called “diyas,” fireworks, gift exchanges, special meals and ceremonies.
While it began thousands of years ago as a Hindu, Jain and Sikh religious occasion, Diwali is now observed by more than 1 billion Indians of all religious backgrounds around the world – in much the same way as many Christmas traditions are celebrated by non-Christians – because of its joyful, peaceful, positive message.
So let’s spread the light of Diwali around America!
A postage stamp would place Diwali on the honor roll of other religious observations that have been recognized by the U.S. Postal Service, including Christmas, Easter, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and Eid. England, Canada, Singapore, Malaysia, Israel, South Africa, Indonesia and – of course – India have already issued Diwali stamps.
Indiaspora is joining the efforts of a Diwali stamp campaign that began around the turn of the century. Maryland physician Dr. Shailendra Kumar was the first to call for postal recognition of the holiday. Last year, Ravi and Ranju Batra gathered 400,000 online signatures calling for the stamp. Together with Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, the Batras delivered the petition to the Deputy Postmaster General.
At a time when the USPS is losing billions of dollars, it makes financial sense to identify new revenues for postal products and recognize the corresponding opportunity to mail holiday greetings. Indian Americans are increasingly recognized as an affluent and educated ethnic group who would be eager to buy, send and collect a stamp that recognized such an important holiday. Experts predict sales of a Diwali stamp could reach tens of millions of dollars.
Clearly, the time for Diwali recognition is now!
The US and India are riding a wave of friendship and goodwill following Indian Prime Minister Modi’s historic trip to Washington D.C. and New York City. Let’s ride this wave of fellowship to push for the symbolic acceptance of Diwali.
You can help bring the Diwali stamp to life. Here’s how:
- Send a Letter – Write an old-fashioned paper letter requesting the Diwali stamp (click here to get the text of a sample letter), place it in an envelope with a stamp, and send it to the USPS (click here for the address.)
- Contact Your Senator or Congressperson – Email, call or write your elected representative requesting him or her to pass a symbolic Congressional resolution requesting Diwali be recognized with a stamp.
- Spread the Word – During your Diwali, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s parties over the next few months, hold a letter-writing campaign to build awareness of the www.DiwaliStamp.com campaign.
- Design a Stamp – Submit your creative interpretation of what the stamp should look like to the Diwali Stamp Design Contest and Indiaspora will post it on www.DiwaliStamp.com, Winning designs will be sent to the USPS for consideration.
If the diaspora can rally behind this initiative in the same way we mobilized to support Prime Minister Modi’s visit, we will fill the postal service offices from floor to ceiling with requests for the Diwali stamp. Let’s work together to make it happen!
I hope this Diwali finds you surrounded by the blessings of family and friends. And I hope next year I can send you a greeting sealed with an official USPS Diwali stamp.