Diwali, the festival of lights, is set to become a school holiday in New York City, Mayor Eric Adams announced on June 26.
Thousands of New Yorkers celebrate Diwali each year to commemorate the victory of light over darkness, and the announcement came after state lawmakers recently enacted legislation designating it as a holiday in the biggest school system in the US. Mayor Eric Adams called the moment a significant win for the local families.
“I’m so proud to have stood with Assemblymember @JeniferRajkumar and community leaders in the fight to make Diwali a school holiday. I know it’s a little early in the year, but: Shubh Diwali!.” Mayor Eric Adams wrote on Twitter.
Mayor Eric Adams said he was “confident” that Governor Kathy Hochul would sign the bill.
The measure still has to be inked into law by Governor Kathy Hochul. The new holiday will replace “Brooklyn-Queens Day” on the school holiday calendar.
Following the declaration, New York State Assembly member, Jenifer Rajkumar tweeted, “My press conference with @NYCMayor today at City Hall. I was proud to lead and win the fight to make Diwali a School Holiday, alongside Mayor Eric Adams.”
Mayor Eric Adams said that the moment represented a symbolic declaration to those who feel unwelcome “that you are part of this city and not considered an outsider,” the New York Times reported.
“We’re now saying New York is made for everyone,” Mayor Eric Adams said. “No matter where you came from.”
Diwali will be observed this year on Sunday, November 12. Therefore it will be a day off from school for the first time in 2024.
According to the New York Times, in 2015, the city announced it would close schools in honour of two major Muslim holidays, Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha.
Recently on May 27, 2023, a prominent American lawmaker introduced a bill in the US Congress to declare Diwali, the festival of lights, a federal holiday, a move welcomed by different communities nationwide.
“Diwali is one of the most important festivals and days for billions of people across the globe and for countless families in Queens, New York and the United States of America,” Congresswoman Grace Meng told reporters during a virtual news conference soon after the decision was introduced in the House of Representatives.
“My Diwali Day Act is one step towards educating all Americans on the importance of this day and celebrating the full face of American Diversity. I look forward to shepherding this bill through Congress,” she said.
When passed by Congress and then by the US President, the Diwali Day Act would make the festival of lights the 12th formally recognised holiday in the United States of America (USA).
In April 2023, even the US state of Pennsylvania declared Diwali as a state holiday. The state passed a bill recognising the Hindu Festival as an official holiday.
The legislation designating Diwali as a state holiday was submitted in February 2023 by two senators-Greg Rothman and Nikhil Saval.
(with inputs from ANI)