US Postal Service Honors Festival of Diwali with a Forever Stamp

Diwali Stamp

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Washington, DC – The United States Postal Service this week announced its plans to “commemorate the joyous Hindu festival of Diwali with a Forever stamp,” on October 5, Wednesday, when it would hold the first-day-of-issue dedication ceremony at the Consulate General of India, New York.

Earlier, Ranju Batra, Chair Diwali Stamp Project, joined Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney along with other dignitaries to announce successful completion of their unflinching efforts to make the dream of a Diwali Stamp a reality.

Thanking Congresswoman Maloney, Ranju Batra said, “True to her word, Carolyn Maloney introduced House Resolution 47 on January 25, 2013 in the 113th Congress calling upon Citizen’s Stamp Advisory Committee of the United States Postal Service to issue a Diwali Stamp.” She further thanked others including Congress-members Grace Meng, Ami Bera, Mike Honda, and Tulsi Gabbard. who all attended several events in New York, supporting the Diwali Stamp Project.

Commenting on the issuance of the stamp, Congressman Ami Bera, Co-Chair of the House Caucus on India and Indian Americans and currently the only Indian American serving in Congress said in a statement, “I’m thrilled that the United States Postal Service has issued a stamp to celebrate Diwali,” adding, “Diwali is a celebration of goodness over evil observed by nearly a billion people around the world, including more than two million right here in the US. This stamp is long overdue, and I’m glad Diwali has the same acknowledgment as many other major religious holidays do with a commemorative stamp.”

Ravi Batra, the support behind Ranju Batra said, “I am so proud of Ranju and Carolyn – the Diwali Girls – who never gave up, and today, the United States Postal Service relented and agreed to issue a Diwali Stamp because these two leaders – Carolyn in Congress and Ranju at the grassroots level never gave up. Today, 1.2 Billion Indians know that America loves them; and every Indian can buy a Diwali Stamp to show that they are stuck on America.”

Mark Saunders from Corporate Communications, US Postal Service Headquarters, provided details about the Diwali stamp and the importance of the festival to Indian American Times. On the design and making of the stamp, Saunders stated, “The stamp design is a photograph featuring a traditional diya oil lamp beautifully lit, sitting on a sparkling gold background. Sally Andersen-Bruce of New Milford, CT, photographed the diya. Greg Breeding of Charlottesville, VA, designed the stamp and William J. Gicker of Washington, DC, served as the project’s art director.”

Diwali is a shortened version of the Sanskrit word Deepavali, which roughly translates as “a necklace of lights.” During Diwali, the flickering oil-wick diyas sprinkle the homes of observers around the world. Diwali celebrates the triumph of good over evil. Spanning five days each autumn, it is considered by some to be the start of the new year. Diya lamps are usually made from clay with cotton wicks dipped in a clarified butter known as “ghee” or in vegetable oil.

On the Hindu calendar, Diwali falls on the eve of, or on, the new moon that occurs between mid-October and mid-November. In 2016, the main day of the festival will be celebrated Oct. 29 for South Indians and Oct 30 for North Indians.

Before the festival, many Hindus traditionally go shopping, clean their homes, open their doors and windows, create intricate rangoli — a vibrant floor pattern traditionally made from materials such as rice powder, colored sand and flower petals — and light diyas with hopes that Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth and prosperity, will visit. In some regions of India, people play games, just as Hindu lore says that the god Shiva did. On the festive main day of the holiday, families pray to Lakshmi, dress up in their best clothes, enjoy lavish feasts and sweets, exchange gifts and light fireworks. Diwali also marks the new year for people in Gujarat and a few other states of India. Diwali also is celebrated as a major holiday by followers of the Jain and Sikh faiths.

Saunders noted that the Diwali stamp was being issued as a “Forever stamp,” which would also be equal in value to the current First Class Mail 1-ounce price.

On the selection process, Saunders added, “The Postal Service receives approximately 40,000 suggestions for stamp ideas annually from the public. Stamp subjects are reviewed by the Citizens’ Stamp Advisory Committee. Of that, approximately 25 topic suggestions for commemorative stamps are selected by the Committee for the Postmater General’s approval.” “The Postal Service receives no tax dollars for operating expenses and relies on the sale of postage, products and services to fund its operations,” Saunders clarified,

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