Diwali - A integral part of American culture!

November 13, 2001

Diwali is on Wednesday, November 14th; let us celebrate with a unified voice for a change. Other cultures celebrate such events by taking religious holidays (Hannukah and Ramadan). Why should we not have a holiday for Diwali? When was the last time you took a religious holiday? Why not this Wednesday? Why are we always afraid to be ourselves and to celebrate the wonder and diversity of our culture. We are a nation of nations amongst ourselves. We are over 50 years old and beautiful. We are the World's largest democracy, so let us be heard.

Imagine if every doctor, dentist, pharmacist, computer programmer, engineer, small business owner,... takes Wednesday as a religious holiday. Only then will America realize the importance of Indians to US society. And only then will America recognize the positive contributions of Indians. Everybody knows about Christmas, Hannukah, and Ramadan, but no one knows about Diwali. Why not? Why do we not celebrate our religion like others? What are we afraid of?

And now more than ever, we must be heard. Every Indian must be fearful of the current cooperation between the United States and Pakistan. Will the U.S. side with Pakistan when it comes time to deal with the Kashmir issue, and even in the future when it comes to selling arms and giving aid. I think it is important, now more than ever, that Indians stand up and let themselves be heard. Let us leave no doubt in President Bush's mind, that Indians are an integral and much needed part of this nation. Let America know who we are and what we represent.

Ask yourself if you tired of falling into the "other" category? How many Indian actors do you see on E.R., and how many Indians do you see in a real hospital? Are you content being a simpson stereotype? There are Christian hospitals and Jewish hospitals, yet not one Indian hospital even though we staff them all. How many Indian news anchors or weather men do you see? How many television show hosts? It is time we stopped being the silent workhorse. Our silence is our greatest enemy. Let us be heard, let us be recognized.

On Wednesday, we have the opportunity to be heard. I encourage all Indians, upon rational thought, to call your employer or put up signs on your businesses stating you are taking a religious holiday on Wednesday in observance of the Festival of Lights: Diwali... And let us celebrate with the vigor and joy Diwali commands. In India, it is the greatest day of the year; in America it is just a silent night. Celebrate who we are on Wednesday, we owe it to ourselves, a culture from the ages.

Together and unified we are unstoppable.

- Rick Malik, Baltimore, MD, USA

The views of this column are the author's own, and do not necessarily represent the views of NRI Online.

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