Indian Americans will finally have a postage stamp of their own, one which they have wanted for years to mark the symbolic coming of age of an increasingly influential ethnic minority.
The US will issue a stamp to commemorate Hinduism as it has for other religions, said Congresswoman Caroline Maloney, making the announcement in New York.
The stamp, which bears a picture of a ‘diya’ or Diwali lamp, will be officially launched in October and it will be available for sale a few weeks after, according to the announcement.
The diya was photographed by Sally Andersen-Bruce, the stamp was designed by Greg Breeding, and William J Gicker of the postal service was the project’s art director.
“I really feel uplifted,” said Ranju Batra, the Indian American who spearheaded the Diwali Stamp Project for years. She was present at the announcement with Maloney.
Indian Americans first began working towards a Diwali stamp 16 years ago, according to MR Rangaswami, a Silicon Valley entrepreneur who has been involved in the project.
But that first effort, launched by Washington doctor Shailendra Kumar, petered out after a while because of lack of traction — “there wasn’t enough support”.
The community kept trying, organising itself in the process. Maloney of New York became an eager participant, and moved a resolution in the house of representatives in 2014.
“But a resolution was not sufficient to move the US postal service to issue a stamp,” said Rangaswami. The community began writing to the service.
More than 10,000 petitions were sent over the years. To impress lawmakers of their case, the community organised a Diwali event on Capitol Hill, home to the US legislature, in 2015.
A resolution was also moved in the US Senate by Democrat Mark Warner and Republican John Cornyn, co-chairs of the Indian Caucus, and the stamp began to look possible.
Rangaswami said Indian Americans needed the stamp as a “symbolic coming of age of the community”, to reflect, perhaps, their growing clout in the country.
Estimated to be around 3 million, Indian Americans are among the most prosperous and educated in the US.