GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A group of Michigan democrats have introduced a set of bills to add more holidays to the state calendar.
The bills, introduced Tuesday, would establish Diwali, Vaisakhi, Eid al-Fitr, Eid al-Adha and the Lunar New Year as official state-recognized holidays. The legislation does not mandate that those days be taken off, but supporters argue it will help schools and employers take the holidays into account when setting calendars.
State Rep. Abraham Aiyash, D-Hamtramck, introduced House Bill 4447, which would establish the Muslim holidays of Eid, marking the beginning and end of Ramadan. Aiyash, who is Muslim, says the group of bills will help showcase Michigan as a home to people from all faiths and walks of life.
“These bills embrace the diverse fabric of our state by recognizing various religious and cultural holidays,” Aiyash said in a statement. “Making these holidays official state holidays will let Michigan’s many communities know that they have a place in our great state and deserve to celebrate their joyous occasions like everyone else.”
State Rep. Ranjeev Puri, D-Troy, is Michigan’s first Sikh lawmaker. He introduced two bills to establish the Sikh festival of Vaisakhi and the Hindu religious festival of Diwali.
Vaisakhi is celebrated in mid-April and is an annual celebration of the spring harvest. Diwali is a five-day celebration that happens every fall to mark the victory of light over the dark — or good over evil.
“Together, we can create a Michigan that is truly welcoming and accepting of all people, regardless of their background of beliefs,” Puri said in a statement.
State Rep. Sharon MacDonell, D-Troy, introduced House Bill 4448, which would establish Lunar New Year as a state holiday. While MacDonnel does not have ancestral roots in East or Southeast Asian cultures, plenty of her constituents do.
“Many people in my district and across the state celebrate the Lunar New Year,” MacDonnel stated. “It is time that our state recognizes and celebrates holidays from cultures all around the world. This bill will do just that.”
All four bills were referred to the Committee on Government Operations for more discussion.