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The Texas House of Representatives passed the bill "Recognizing the festival of Diwali 2023" on November 2, 2023, a culturally significant and joyous occasion celebrated by Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, and Buddhists.
This historic step has been greatly appreciated and celebrated by Houston's booming South Asian communities, highlighting the diversity in the region. As Houstonians prepare for Diwali celebrations, this recognition further emphasizes the cultural significance of the festival and the importance of fostering intercultural understanding.
Diwali, also known as the festival of lights, is believed to symbolize the victory of light over darkness, good over evil, and truth over ignorance. It holds immense religious and cultural importance for millions of people worldwide. The Texas House of Representatives' recognition acknowledges and honors the spiritual significance of this auspicious occasion.
State Rep. Suleman Lalani sponsored the resolution in the Texas House, which successfully passed, extending warm wishes to all participating in the Diwali observance. Some believe this bipartisan resolution demonstrates the acceptance and celebration of diversity within Texas. In the resolution, Lalani affirms:
"WHEREAS Every year, the festival of Diwali brings together more than a billion people across the globe in the spirit of joy, unity, and hope for humankind, and it is indeed fitting to acknowledge the profound importance of the holiday to many who reside in our state; now, therefore, be it RESOLVED, That the House of Representatives of the 88th Texas Legislature, 3rd Called Session, hereby recognize the festival of Diwali 2023 and extend warmest wishes to all those who are taking part in the observance."
While the resolution is largely symbolic and not legally binding, its impact on the growing South Asian population in Texas is substantial. With over 450,000 Indian Americans, Texas has the second-largest count in the country, after Alaska and Indian Americans are among the highest-earning minorities in the state.
Indian-owned businesses also contribute significantly to the Texan and Houston economies. The Indian American Council for Business, a prominent organization, highlights the economic impact of Indian entrepreneurs and cites their contributions to job creation and revenue generation.
Their website provides a wealth of information and statistics on the substantial economic influence of Indian-owned businesses in Texas. The resolution not only recognizes the importance of Diwali as a cherished celebration of the South Asian community but also acknowledges the integral role Indian Americans play in the fabric of Texas. It builds upon local efforts in Houston, where Mayor Sylvester Turner and Governor Greg Abbott have actively celebrated Diwali at various events.
Furthermore, ongoing endeavors are underway to establish Diwali as a holiday in Houston school districts. At a national level, U.S. lawmakers are also working towards making Diwali a recognized national holiday, further emphasizing the cultural significance of this festival.
Harsh Goenka, Chairman of RPG Enterprises, has shed light on why Indian Americans are among the highest-earning ethnic groups in the USA. According to some estimates, Indian Americans have the highest median household income in the country.
An impressive 70% of the Indian-American population holds a bachelor's degree, far surpassing the national average of 28%. According to Goenka, Indian Americans shine in America due to their strong emphasis on education, making them the most educated ethnic group.
Additionally, their diligence, frugal habits, and prevalence in high-paying fields such as I.T., engineering, and medicine contribute to their success. Goenka humorously adds, "We are smart" as a contributing factor to their achievements.
Maryland Governor Wes Moore, the first Black Governor in Maryland's history and the third African American elected Governor in the U.S., signed the Dashain Commemorative Day Bill into effect on October 1st, 2023. This monumental occasion marks Maryland as the first state in the U.S. to officially recognize the Nepali festival of Dashain.
Congresswoman Grace Meng introduced the Diwali Day Act, which seeks to establish Diwali as the 12th federally recognized holiday in the United States. Meng aims to foster cultural understanding and emphasize the importance of diversity within the country.
This legislation would enable families and communities to celebrate Diwali as an official holiday, reinforcing the government's commitment to cultural inclusivity. Recognizing Diwali and providing an official holiday allows individuals to fully partake in the festivities and cultural traditions associated with the festival.
This serves to strengthen the bond among diverse communities in the US and promotes a sense of belonging and celebration for all residents.
"Diwali is one of the most important days of the year for billions of people across the globe, and for countless families and communities in Queens, New York, and the United States," said Congresswoman Meng. "Diwali celebrations are a wonderful time here in Queens, and each year, it is easy to see just how important this day is to so many people. America's strength is derived from the diverse experiences, cultures and communities that make up this nation. My Diwali Day Act is one step toward educating all Americans on the importance of this day, and celebrating the full face of American diversity. I look forward to shepherding this bill through Congress."
In addition to introducing the Diwali Day Act, Representative Grace Meng has been a vocal advocate for recognizing Diwali within her hometown of New York City. She espouses the importance of cultural inclusivity and has supported efforts to establish Diwali as a school holiday and promote its recognition at the state and local levels. This broader advocacy aligns with a growing trend in the United States toward recognizing and celebrating cultural diversity.
While the 12 federal holidays in the United States predominantly revolve around historical and national events, the recognition of Diwali as an official holiday represents a step towards acknowledging the cultural contributions of various expat communities to the U.S. economy and society. By actively advocating for Diwali recognition and fostering cultural understanding, Representative Grace Meng's efforts reflect a commitment to promoting diversity and inclusivity within the nation.
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Lindokuhle Mkhize, a skilled creative copywriter and content lead at Trademarkia, brings a wealth of experience in driving innovation and managing teams. With previous success in starting and growing the Innovation and Marketing department at her former creative agency, Lindokuhle boasts expertise in leadership and delivering compelling content. Based in South Africa, Lindokuhle's work focuses on key themes of creativity, effective communication, and strategic marketing.
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