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Diwali: A New Federal Holiday

One of the biggest festivals in India and countless other South Asian countries is Diwali.

Although this holiday is celebrated by millions of people in the U.S.A. it only recently became a federal holiday in the US, introduced by Raja Krishnamoorthi, a congressman of Indian descent. The loved holiday was just around the corner earlier this month, but it sparked many controversies on federal holidays in the U.S.A.

Even if one doesn’t celebrate Diwali, it doesn’t take long to realize how important it is to millions, especially to those in India. Students in BSGE look forward impatiently to reunite with their families and celebrate. The substantial commemoration of light over dark, good over evil is a staple holiday that many Hindus look forward to every year.

Diwali has also been adopted into so many South Asian cultures besides India. One popular adaptation is Tihar, a 5-day holiday in Nepal celebrated by hundreds of thousands. “Everything about it from reuniting with my cousin and earning money is the absolute best, I couldn’t love it more,” a student at BSGE pleads. The range of Diwali exceeds countless countries, thus contributing to how this population deserves to be recognized in the U.S.A.

Despite how the population of India surpasses 4 million in the United States alone, it was not recognized as a federal American holiday until recent years. Due to how America was a predominantly white country, most holidays celebrated by minority groups get flushed out and go unrecognized. However, the country since then has diversified immensely, causing many groups to feel that their culture is invisible.

It is a shared experience from not just South Asian groups, but from all groups to be ashamed of their culture because of how unmatched and unique it is. One student in particular explains how from a young age, she always wanted to be white to be “just like everyone else” and for others to not question her heritage.

For others, it’s the harmful yet unfortunately common stereotypes made about their ethnicity that make people insecure. A handful of students at BSGE often say that though India is one of the most well-known countries, no one knows about their genuine culture nor cares to know about it. According to them, it’s like people subconsciously assume that they are just like unrealistic stereotypes.

Cultures should not make anyone feel like they don’t belong but instead make them honor the traditions and customs that make their culture special. Silencing out holidays that are crucial for millions will only strengthen that feeling and influence the desire of wanting to be “like everyone else” impressionable people.

Diversity is not something that the U.S.A. should be afraid of implementing in their country. Just like any other population, South Asian countries deserve to have their holidays recognized and appreciated as a federal holiday. Therefore making Diwali a federal holiday in the U.S.A. would be a big step in promoting diversity, especially in America.

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