In another sign of the increasing influence of the vast Indian diaspora in the United States, the US Postal Service has "begun" the process of issuing a postage stamp on Diwali.
However, it is likely to take at least three to five years, before the postage stamp on Diwali is finally issued, said the US Postal Service spokeswoman, Rita Peer. "At least, it is not being issued this year," she said.
"Right now, it is at the discussion stage in the Citizens' Stamp Advisory Committee. No final decision has been made so far, but it is in process," Peer told Hiandustantimes.com.
Normally the postal stamps are issued three years after the decision is made. The decision on the postal stamps to be issued in 2005 was taken three years ago.
Peer did conced that this was probably for the first time that steps were being initiated to issue a postal stamp on something related to India. "We searched a lot, and nothing of this short has come to our notice so far in the past," she said.
It is the recommendation of the Citizens' Stamp Advisory Committee, which is generally accepted by the US Post Master General, the final authority to issue the stamp.
The spokeswoman said the general criteria of the Advisory Committee to recommend the issuing of the postal stamp was if it would be popular with the US people.
The Committee, which normally meets every quarter, began the process after it received a large number of request and pleas from the citizens of the country.
The 15-member Stamp Advisory Committee comprises of eminent persons from various walks of life reflecting a wide range of educational, artistic, historical and professional expertise.
Once the Committee opts in favour of Diwali, it would invite various type of design for the postal stamps, she said.
In April, the Democratic Congressman, Frank Pallone, founder of the India Caucus, had introduced a Bill in the House of Representatives urging the US Postal Service to issue a postage stamp honouring Diwali. Introducing the bill, Pallone had argued that an estimated 1.5 million Indian Americans celebrate Diwali.
Meanwhile, several India American organizations have intensified their effort to lobby in favour of a Diwali postal stamp. More than 1.75 lakh people have already signed in the on-line petition of the Indian American Citizen's Council - Committee for Diwali Postage Stamp. They are targetting signatures of about five lakh people.
American Hindu Association and Vishwa Hindu Parishad, US are the other prominent organizations who have been campaigning in favour of a Diwali postage stamp for quite some time now.
The US Postal Service has so far issued several religion-based holiday stamps including that of Christmas, Kwanzaa, Hanukkah and Eid stamps. The White House too has been honouring the American Hindu community by having a Diwali ceremony for the past few years.
Peer said the Committee's primary goal is to select subjects for recommendation to the Postmaster General that are both interesting and educational. In addition to the Postal Service's extensive line of regular stamps, the Committee recommends approximately 25 new subjects for commemorative stamps each year.