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On Oct. 18, State Rep. Christine Greig, D-Farmington Hills, was one of several co-sponsors of a resolution that was adopted immediately in the Michigan House.
It involved the official recognition of Diwali, a religious festival which historically holds significance for Hindus, Jains, and Sikhs. However, it is enjoyed by most Indians regardless of faith and celebrates the triumph of good over evil. The festival’s importance could be equated to that of Christmas for people of Christian faiths.
“It is a source of great pride and happiness that this resolution has passed a day before we officially celebrate Diwali on Oct. 19,” said Padma Kuppa, a member of the executive council of the Hindu American Foundation.
The HAF was founded in 2003 and is a non-profit organization which works on policy-related issues meant to enhance the well-being of Hindus living in the U.S. The resolution was a direct result of the HAF’s work.
“We want to raise awareness of the Hindu community, its customs and traditions through the recognition of Diwali, which has been accomplished through this resolution,” said Kuppa. “This is my home and I want to feel accepted for who I am in society and this resolution will help with the image of the Hindu community in the mainstream media.”
Prakash Jha, the president of the Hindu YUVA Club, a socio-cultural club that promotes the awareness of Hindu culture and way of life, agrees.
“With this resolution, they are proclaiming that Diwali is the official festival of the Hindu community in Michigan, which is a big deal for us,” said Jha.
Jha and Kuppa along with representatives from the Bharatiya Temple, the place of worship for Hindus in the area, were in attendance and emphasized the importance of such a proclamation for the Hindu diaspora in America. They believe this will go a long way in starting a conversation about the importance of the festival and eventually a discussion about the Hindu community.
“The fact that they have officially declared Diwali as a major festival of the Hindu community speaks volumes about our growth and importance within Michigan,” said Jha.
The sentiments of the Hindu community in attendance were justified by the words of the resolution, “Resolved, that we express deepest respect and admiration to all those who celebrate the Diwali Festival throughout the world and in our own communities.”