This post was originally published on 26 October 2016.
The US Postal Service (USPS) has released a special stamp to commemorate Diwali, capping seven-year-long efforts by Indian-Americans and influential American lawmakers to commemorate the festival of lights.
The first-day-of-issue dedication event was held at the Consulate General of India in New York.
The stamp, showing a lighted earthen diya on a cushion red and yellow petals and a golden background.
According to the US Postal Service, ‘the Diwali stamp is being issued as a forever stamp’, meaning they can be used for first class mail whatever the postal rate.
Besides, a specially designed Diwali first-day cover, digital Diwali postmarks and framed Diwali art are also being sold in all post offices and online on USPS.com. These are of varying denominations from $1.88 to $9.40.
The stamp has been released along with an explanation of what the festival means, its Sanskrit origin and mythological roots.
Years of lobbying by Indian-Americans
The stamp is the result of seven years of lobbying by Indian-Americans for an official recognition of the festival, Times of India reported.
Tulsi Gabbard, the only Hindu Congresswoman, had officially started a campaign last year for a postal stamp with the country’s 300,000-strong Indian-American community backing her with their signatures.
The effort paid off with the postal services announcing in late August its decision to release a Diwali stamp in time for the festival in October, TOI added.
The Postal Service receives approximately 40,000 suggestions for stamp ideas annually. The ideas are then reviewed by the Citizens’ Stamp Advisory Committee, which selects about 25 of them for the Postmaster General’s approval.
Ambassador Riva Ganguly Das, Consul General of India in New York, called the commemoration a “long cherished dream” of the community, USA Today reported.
The holiday, which signifies the triumph of light over darkness, knowledge over ignorance and good over evil, is also celebrated by Buddhists, Jains and Sikhs.