By Michael Baadke
The first United States stamp to honor the Hindu festival of Diwali will be issued Oct. 5 in New York City.
Early reports from the United States Postal Service indicated that the Consulate General of India in New York City would host a first-day ceremony to welcome the new forever stamp, but the time for the first-day ceremony has not been announced, and the USPS has not revealed if the ceremony will be open to the public.
The nondenominated (47¢) forever stamp features a photograph by Sally Andersen-Bruce of a traditional diya oil lamp against a sparkling gold background. It will be issued in a pane of 20. An unspecified number of press sheets containing 160 stamps (eight panes) also will be offered.
“Diwali” is shown in large white letters at the base of the lamp.
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“Also known as Deepavali, Diwali celebrates the triumph of good over evil,” the U.S. Postal Service stated. “Spanning five days each autumn, it is considered by some to be the start of the new year.
“On the Hindu calendar, Diwali falls on the eve of, or on, the new moon that occurs between mid-October and mid-November.
“Diwali is a shortened version of the Sanskrit word Deepavali, which roughly translates as ‘a necklace of lights.’ During Diwali, the flickering oil-wick diyas sprinkle the homes of observers around the world.”
According to information posted online, the Consulate General of India is observing Diwali on Oct. 30, a Sunday. The Postal Service adds that Diwali is an important festival in several religions, including Buddhism, Jainism, and Sikhism.
Efforts requesting a Diwali stamp for the United States have been underway for several years, and include a website sponsored by Indiaspora, a support group for Indian Americans. Linn’s reported in the Feb. 2, 2015, issue that U.S. Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY) introduced a resolution in the previous month advocating that the USPS issue a stamp for Diwali.
Technical details and first-day cancel ordering information for the Diwali forever stamp are below.
FIRST DAY— Oct. 5, 2016; city— New York, N.Y., and nationwide.
DESIGN: photographer— Sally Andersen-Bruce, New Milford, Conn.; art director— William Gicker, Washington, D.C.; designer and typographer— Greg Breeding, Charlottesville, Va.; modeler— Joseph Sheeran.
PRINTING: process— offset with microprinting; printer and processor— Ashton Potter USA Ltd., Williamsville, N.Y.; press— Mueller A76; inks— cyan, magenta, yellow, black; paper— nonphosphored, type III with block tagging; gum— self-adhesive; issue quantity— 30 million stamps; format— pane of 20, from 320-subject cylinders; size— 0.77 inches by 1.05 inches (image); 0.91 inches by 1.19 inches (overall); 5.55 inches by 5.76 inches (full pane); 22.20 inches by 11.52 inches (press sheet); plate numbers— “P” followed by four single digits; marginal markings— plate numbers in four corners (stamp side); unspecified copyright information, USPS logo, plate position diagram, promotional text, bar code in two corners (back side); USPS item No.— 588840.
Collectors requesting first-day cancels are encouraged to purchase their own stamps and affix them to envelopes. The first-day cover envelopes should be addressed for return (a removable label may be used), and mailed in a larger envelope addressed to Diwali Stamp, Stamp Fulfillment Services, Cancellation Services, 8300 NE Underground Drive, Pillar 210, Kansas City, MO 64144-9998. Requests for first-day cancels must be postmarked by Dec. 5.
The Postal Service’s uncacheted first-day cover for the nondenominated (47¢) Diwali stamp is USPS item No. 588816 at 91¢. USPS order numbers for stamps and FDCs also appear in Linn’s 2016 U.S. Stamp Program.