Amidst four intimate ceremonies with public and elected officials and community members over the span of 10 days, the Hindu American Foundation (HAF) welcomed proclamations designating November 3, 2013 as Diwali Day in the Michigan cities of Ann Arbor, Grand Rapids, Rochester Hills, and Troy. The official proclamations shared greetings to over one billion Hindu, Sikh, and Jain celebrants of Diwali worldwide and provided the citizens of these cities a glimpse into the altruistic nature of the festival.
Over the past several months, HAF’s Board member Padma Kuppa and Michigan chapter members, Venkat Lakshminarayan, Kedar Raut, and Fred Stella, met with various public and elected officials, to explain the importance of Diwali and encourage the cities to issue proclamations, similar to what the US Congress had been doing since 2007. Council members Ravi Yalamanchi of Rochester Hills and Sumi Kailasapathy of Ann Arbor, and Community Affairs Director Cindy Stewart of Troy, all understanding the significance of Diwali, were instrumental in seeing the proclamations to fruition.
“Cindy Stewart’s tireless efforts to engage the Hindu community, the Mayor, and the Council is only the latest in her long time commitment to addressing ethnic issues,” said Ms. Kuppa. “And the mention of recognized the Bharatiya Temple located in Troy, one of the first and largest temples in Michigan, is so important. Hindus have lived in and contributed to the metro-Detroit area for decades. We’re grateful that all of these cities are acknowledging our contributions and the way our cultural heritage weaves into the social fabric of America. My immediate neighbors have known for years why my Christmas lights go up in November -- now more people in the community will realize it too.”
During Diwali, also known as the “Festival of Lights,” clay lamps or diyas are lit to signify the destruction, through knowledge, of all negative qualities -- be it violence, anger, jealousy, greed, fear or suffering. Diwali has become more notable in the United States in recent years, having been celebrated in the White House since 2003. In 2007, the U.S. Congress acknowledged the religious and historical importance of Diwali through resolutions in both houses.
Steve Spreitzer, Interim Director and CEO of Michigan Roundtable for Diversity and Inclusion and long-time friend of the Hindu American community, said, “Within this challenging political climate, it is gratifying to see our lawmakers coming together to demonstrate their commitment and appreciation for religious diversity.”
Members of the Jain and Sikh communities, as well as other local HAF supporters, were present at Ann Arbor’s proclamation celebration.
“As Hindu Americans, it’s so important that we share our faith traditions with our neighbors in order to foster good relations with all Americans,” said Dr. Raut, an HAF member from Rochester Hills. “Diwali is also a time to reflect upon the improvements to be made in one’s life for the betterment of society, and it provides an opportunity to bring people together. I hope these proclamations inspire all to continue serving and contributing to the greater good.”
Read More: 5 Things to Know About Diwali
Source: Hindu American Foundation