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Bill to Make Diwali Federal Holiday in US

A bill to make Diwali a federal holiday has been introduced by Grace Meng, a Democrat member of the House of Representatives.

"My Diwali Day Act is one step toward educating all Americans on the importance of this day, and celebrating the full face of American diversity," Meng said on Friday.

"Diwali is one of the most important days of the year for billions of people across the globe," she said.

"America's strength is derived from the diverse experiences, cultures and communities that make up this nation."

Broadening its appeal, the text of the bill says: "Millions of Americans, both religious and secular, celebrate Diwali, which is also called the 'Festival of Lights'."

The bill has been sponsored by 14 members of the House -- 13 Democrats and a Republican -- and shows wide wide support.

The sponsors even include Ilhan Omar and Pramila Jayapal, who are caustic critics of the Indian government and what they call "Hindutva".

If the Diwali Day Act is adopted by Congress, it would become the 12th federal holiday, and only the second religious holiday after Christmas.

The bill was introduced on May 15 and forwarded the same day to the House Committee on Oversight and Accountability, which will have to approve it for it to go before the House.

It will also have to be approved by the Senate before going to the president for the final stage of adoption as law.

"Establishing a federal holiday for Diwali, and the day off it would provide, would allow families and friends to celebrate together, and demonstrate that the government values the diverse cultural makeup of the nation," Meng's office said.

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