The annual “festival of lights” celebrated by Sikhs and Hindus will be commemorated this year with a new forever stamp from the U.S. Postal Service commemorating the fall celebration. Usually known as Diwali, the festival celebrates the victory of good over evil. Depending on tradition and geography, it is celebrated each year on Oct. 29 or Oct. 30. The stamp will be dedicated Oct. 5 at the Consulate General of India in New York City.

Indian migration to United States

Estimates on the number of Sikhs residing in the United States vary from 250,000 to 500,000. Diwali celebrations are common in such California cities as Livingston, Stockton and Fremont, where Sikhs have settled. The celebration includes parades, dressing up in traditional clothing and children’s games. Sikh migration to the United States began in the 19th Century, with a new wave of immigrants arriving in the 1970s.

There are more than two million Hindus in the United States. It is the nation’s fourth-largest religious group, behind Christians, Jews and Buddhists, in that order.

Indians in leadership positions

Indians have assimilated broadly in the United States. The city of Livingston, California in Merced County has had two Sikh mayors. U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, a Hawaii Democrat, is of the Hindu faith. Gov. Nikki Haley, a South Carolina Republican, is a daughter of Sikh Indian immigrants. She is a Methodist. Former Gov. Bobby Jindal, a Louisiana Republican, grew up in a Hindu family but later converted to Catholicism.

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Foreign Affairs

What’s in the picture

The new stamp features a photograph of a Diya lamp. The lamps are made of clay and have cotton wicks that burn while soaked in butter or vegetable oil. Sally Andersen-Bruce of New Milford, Connecticut took the photo. The stamp was designed by Greg Breeding of Charlottesville, West Virginia. Art director was the project’s art director.

Commemorative stamp ideas

Suggestions for commemorative forever stamps are made by members of the public.

The ideas are reviewed by the Citizens’ Stamp Advisory Committee. The committee then recommends projects for approval to the Postmaster General. The Postal Service receives about 40,000 suggestions for commemorative stamps each year.

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