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New York, June 20 – Congressman Jim Himes has agreed to support a bill introduced in the US Congress to declare Diwali as a federal holiday.
The Diwali Day Act, introduced by New York Congresswoman Grace Meng last month, would make the ‘Festival of Lights’ the 12th federally recognised holiday in the US when it is passed by Congress and signed into law by President Joe Biden.
Himes’ support came after his meeting with prominent members of Global Organization of People of Indian Origin-Connecticut Chapter (GOPIO-CT) last week.
Led by GOPIO Chairman Thomas Abraham, the delegation also discussed Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s upcoming state visit from Wednesday to Friday.
The visit includes a state dinner as well as an address to the Joint Session of the Congress on Thursday.
Himes, who serves Connecticut’s fourth Congressional district, also discussed shortage of workers in hospitality and healthcare sectors, and delays faced by Indians in getting permanent resident cards, according to a GOPIO release.
Recently, the New York State legislature passed a Bill, led by Indian-American assemblywoman Jenifer Rajkumar, to make Diwali a school holiday in the city.
New York Governor Kathy Hochul is expected to sign the bill to make it a law, following which Mayor Eric Adams would be able to designate Diwali as a school holiday for an estimated two lakh students from these communities who celebrate it.
Earlier this year, Pennsylvania became the first US state to officially recognise Diwali as a public holiday.
The state introduced the Diwali holiday ahead of other states like California, Texas, Illinois, New York and New Jersey with a high concentration of Indian-Americans.
Michigan’s Indian-American state representative Ranjeev Puri, also introduced a bill last week to make Diwali, Vaishakhi, Eid-ul-Fitr, Eid-ul-Adha and Lunar New Year as state-recognised holidays in the state.