Diwali, a holiday known as the “Festival of Lights” and celebrated primarily in South Asia and the Caribbean, will become an official school holiday in New York City, local leadership announced Thursday.
“Today, South Asian and Indo-Caribbean families, like mine, all over this city have made incredible contributions, and today I am proud to say our time has come,” said New York state assemblywoman Jenifer Rajkumar, who introduced the legislation. “The time has come to recognize over 200,000 New Yorkers of the Hindu, Buddhist, Sikh, and Jain faiths who celebrate Diwali, the Festival of Lights.”
The bill Rajkumar introduced replaces the Anniversary Day holiday in an effort to not add additional holidays to the calendar and fulfill the minimum 180 days of instruction requirement under New York state law.
“People have said that there’s simply not enough room in the New York City school calendar to have a Diwali school holiday,” she said. “Well, my legislation makes the room.”
New York City Mayor Eric Adams said the celebration of Diwali is an opportunity to educate students.
“It is long overdue to say to our Hindu, Sikh, Jain and Buddhist students and communities that we see you, we acknowledge you,” Adams said. “The inclusiveness of this city is extremely significant, and this is our opportunity to say that in a loud way.”
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