House passes Venkat bill to designate Diwali as a state holiday

Bill now heads to state Senate for consideration

HARRISBURG, April 26 – In a victory for and celebration of Pennsylvanians of South Asian descent, the House today passed legislation that would designate Diwali, the Hindu Festival of Lights, as a state holiday, according to the bill’s prime sponsor, state Rep. Arvind Venkat.

House Bill 436 would designate the 15th day of the Hindu lunisolar month of Kartik as “Diwali Day” in Pennsylvania.

“This legislation is important in that it reflects the increased diversity of Pennsylvania,” said Venkat, D-Allegheny. “Our state holidays should reflect the vibrancy of the many cultures that call this state home, and this bill is getting us closer to that goal.”

Venkat, the first Pennsylvania state representative of Indian American background, noted that Diwali is observed by more than one billion people worldwide and that Pennsylvania is home to nearly 200,000 South Asian residents, including thousands who participate in Diwali as an essential time of reflection and gathering.

“I am fortunate to have a significant Hindu and South Asian community in the North Hills of Pittsburgh, and the House’s passage of this bill by an overwhelming majority lets them and others in the South Asian community statewide know that their voices and traditions matter to us and that they are an integral part of the fabric of our state,” Venkat said. “I now call on the state Senate to recognize these voices across Pennsylvania and vote to send this bill to the governor’s desk.”

The bill, which passed 200-1, now heads to the Senate chamber for consideration.