Bills introduced in Michigan to declare Diwali, Vaisakhi, Eid and Lunar New Year as official holidays
As Pennsylvania declared Diwali, the Indian festival of lights as an official holiday, two bills were introduced in the Michigan state to recognize festivals like Diwali and Eid as official holidays.
The Pennsylvania House and the Senate have both unanimously passed bills recognizing Diwali as an official holiday.
Indian American state senator Nikil Saval had introduced the legislation with state senator Greg Rothman in Februaury. The House bill was introduced by state representative, Arvind Venkat of Pittsburghâ€™s North Hills, the first Indian-American member of the House.
Read: Diwali to be public school holiday in New York City (October 21, 2022)
â€œThe Senate voted unanimously to recognize Diwali as an official holiday! To all Pennsylvanians who celebrate this festival of light and connection: you are seen, you are welcome, you matter,â€ Saval tweeted Wednesday. â€œThank you, @rothman_greg, for the opportunity to join you in introducing this bill,”
â€œAs our only Indian-American State Rep, I am honored to sponsor this bill recognizing the vibrant South Asian community as part of the fabric of PA,â€ Venkat tweeted.
Rothman emphasized that recognizing Diwali as an official state holiday upholds and celebrates the Commonwealthâ€™s cultural diversity.
â€œThousands of Pennsylvanians celebrate Diwali each year, including many residents of the 34th Senatorial District,â€ Rothman stated. â€œRecognizing Diwali as an official state holiday upholds and celebrates our Commonwealthâ€™s rich cultural diversity.â€
This year Diwali will be celebrated on November 12. The bill does not require school or government closings.
According to India American Impact, Pennsylvania is home to more than 600,000 Asian Americans, out of which Indian Americans make up the largest subgroup. Nearly 200,000 Indian American residents in the state celebrate Diwali every year with glitz and grandeur.
Meanwhile, three legislators, including an Indian-American, have introduced a set of bills in the Michigan State House to establish festivals like Diwali and Eid as official state-recognized holidays.
Led by Majority Floor Leader in the House, Abraham Aiyash, and state representatives Ranjeev Puri and Sharon MacDonell, introduced the legislation to make Diwali, Vaisakhi, Eid al-Fitr, Eid al-Adha and Lunar New Year as official holidays in Michigan.
House Bills 4446 and 4449, introduced by Puri, establish Diwali and Vaisakhi as state holidays.
“Celebrating our cultural diversity is a cornerstone of a vibrant and inclusive society. By recognizing these holidays, we are not only showing our respect and appreciation for the traditions and beliefs of our fellow Michiganders, but we are also sending a powerful message of inclusion and unity,” Puri said.
“A Hindu religious festival, Diwali celebrates the victory of light over darkness, good over evil, and knowledge over ignorance, and Vaisakhi is a spring harvest festival celebrated by both Hindus and Sikhs,” a statement released by Michigan House Democrats read.
“These bills embrace the diverse fabric of our state by recognising various religious and cultural holidays,” Aiyash said, introducing Bill 4447, which calls for Eid al-Adha and Eid al-Fitr as state holidays.
“Making these holidays official state holidays will let Michigan’s many communities know that they have a place in our great state and deserve to celebrate their joyous occasions like everyone else.”
Close to 900,000 Asian Americans live in Michigan, with Indian-Americans making up the largest subgroup, according to Indian American Impact. Most South Asians reside in Detroit and the surrounding area, in places like Troy, Novi, and Farmington Hills.
In 2002, the Festival of Lights was celebrated in the White House for the first time and in 2007, the US government gave official recognition to the festival.
Since then, Diwali has been celebrated on a grand scale in different parts of the US by the Indian community. In 2021, members of the Congressional India caucus introduced the Deepavali Day Act to declare the festival a federal holiday.