Joe Biden lights a diya at White House on Diwali

Washington: US President Joe Biden and Vice-President Kamala Harris on Thursday greeted people celebrating Diwali as lawmakers announce plans to introduce legislation to make Diwali a federal holiday in America.

“May the light of Diwali remind us that from darkness, there is knowledge, wisdom, and truth. From division, unity. From despair, hope,” Biden wrote in a post on Twitter that also has a picture of him and First Lady Jill Biden lighting the ceremonial lamps at the White House.

He added: “To Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, and Buddhists celebrating in America and around the world — from the People’s House to yours, happy Diwali.”

Vice-President Harris’s post was longer with a video message: “Greetings everyone. I want to extend my warmest wishes for a happy valley to everyone celebrating the festival of lights here in the United States and around the world.

“This year Diwali arrives with even deeper meaning in the midst of a devastating pandemic. The holiday reminds us of our nation’s most sacred values, our gratitude for the love of family and friends, our responsibility to lend a hand to those in need and our strength to choose light over darkness, to seek knowledge and wisdom and to be a source of goodness and grace. Let’s remember to honor the light within one another. From our family to yours I wish you a joyous Diwali.”

This is their first Diwali as president and vice-president.

On Wednesday, three Democratic members of the House of Representatives announced plans to introduce legislation, Deepavali Day Act, making Diwali a federal holiday.

They are Carolyn Maloney, chairperson of the House committee on oversight and reform; Gregory Meeks, who is chairman of the powerful House foreign affairs committee; and Indian American Raja Krishnamoorthi.

“This beautiful festival celebrates lightness over dark, goodness over evil, and knowledge over ignorance. My bill today recognizes the importance of this beautiful holiday and gives it the respect and acknowledgement it deserves,” Maloney said

Krishnamurthi said, “The meaning of this legislation extends beyond honouring the significance of Diwali to the Indian-American community to acknowledging the contributions of Indian-Americans to our nation.”

Meeks said: “I’m proud to support Congresswoman Maloney’s resolution to make Diwali a federal holiday. The United States of America is about celebrating the different cultures that make us one.”

Ro Khanna, the other Indian American in the US House, said, “I am proud to co-sponsor this bill with Representative Maloney to recognise Diwali as a federal holiday and know how meaningful this will be to many families across the country.”

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