The US postal service, on 6 October, released a stamp with an Indian 'diya' at the Indian consulate to commemorate the festival of Diwali. The stamp shows a traditional 'diya' lit against a sparkling background, and the words 'Forever USA 2016' written below.
The release stamp marks the end of a seven-year-long effort by influential Indian-Americans to get Diwali recognised as a cultural holiday on par with Christmas and the Jewish festival of Hanukkah.
The release of the stamp was attended by India's Consul General Riva Ganguly, US Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney and India's former diplomat Hardeep Singh Puri, among others.
"It has taken many years of hard work and advocacy but light has finally triumphed. Today Diwali joins the ranks of other major religions and cultural holidays such as Christmas, Kwanzaa, Hanukkah and Eid," Maloney said.
She also said that getting the stamp approved involved tireless advocacy, including meetings with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and personal appeals to President Barack Obama.
Vice President of the US postal service Pritha Mehra said it was "an honour" to issue the Diwali stamp and added: "We hope these will light up millions of cards and letters as they make their journey through the mail stream."
Eminent Indian-American lawyer Ravi Batra said that since the start of the American Revolution "destiny beckoned the US and India to be the closest of allies," and that the stamp "represents nothing short of respectful inclusive indivisibility within America and between the two sovereigns."
Chairman of the Diwali Stamp Project - the group behind the move - Ranju Batra said it was a dream come true.
"Now for the first time there is a stamp that celebrates Hindus, Sikhs, Jains and Buddhists as Americans forever. The Diwali stamp will be a matter of pride for generations to come," she said.
Sally Andersen-Bruce of Connecticut photographed the 'diya' and Greg Breeding of Virginia designed the stamp. William Gicker of Washington served as the project's art director.--PTI