Oct 20, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Diwali to become public school holiday in NYC from 2023

Photo of Eric Adams speaking

Mayor Eric Adams during a September news conference in New York City. Photo: Stephanie Keith/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Diwali will become a public school holiday in New York City starting next year, Mayor Eric Adams (D) announced Thursday.

Why it matters: Diwali, a celebration of light over darkness that starts on Oct. 24 this year, is one of the most sacred holidays observed by Hindus, Sikhs, Jains and Buddhists. Some 200,000 New Yorkers celebrate Diwali each year, per state Assemblymember Jenifer Rajkumar (D), who introduced a bill to recognize the holiday.

What they're saying: "For over two decades, South Asians and Indo-Caribbeans in New York have been fighting for the Diwali school holiday," Rajkumar, the first South Asian American woman elected to state-level office in New York, said at a press conference with Adams.

  • "To New Yorkers from India, Guyana, Trinidad, the Indo-Caribbean, Nepal, Bangladesh and across the South Asian diaspora — we see you."

The big picture: Adding Diwali to the school calendar replaces the little-known Brooklyn-Queens Day and fulfills a campaign pledge by Adams, who noted the action was "long overdue" for the city's Hindu, Sikh, Jain and Buddhist students and communities.

  • "We’ve done it with Eid, we've done it with Lunar New Year. We do it with so many other days and so many other cultures that we acknowledge," Adams said.
  • "We are going to encourage children to learn about what is Diwali," he added. "We’re going to have them start talking about what it is to celebrate the Festival of Lights, and how do you turn a light on within yourself."
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