Diwali will be a public school holiday in New York City from 2023, with Mayor Eric Adams saying it will send a message about the importance of the city’s inclusiveness and that the “long-awaited” move will encourage kids to learn about the festival of lights. .
Adams, along with New York MP Jenifer Rajkumar and New York City Schools Chancellor David Banks, said on Thursday that in his campaign talks he “learned so much” about Diwali and what the festival of lights means.
He said in stating that Diwali is a holiday in public schools in New York City: “We wanted to send a loud and clear message to the countless number of people recognizing this period of celebration.
“At the same time, this is an educational moment because when we recognize Diwali, we’re going to encourage children to learn about Diwali. We’re going to let them talk about what it is to celebrate the festival of lights, and how to turn on the light within yourself.” , he said.
Consul General of India in New York Randhir Jaiswal thanked Adams for making Diwali a school holiday.
“This has been a long-awaited demand from the Indian-American community. The recognition gives a deeper meaning to diversity and pluralism in New York City, while allowing people from all walks of life to experience, celebrate and enjoy India’s ethos and heritage .” he told PTI.
Rajkumar, the first South Asian-American woman ever elected to a state office in New York, said he was proud to say that “Our time has come. The time has come to turn more than 2,000,000 New Yorkers from the Hindu.” recognize, Buddhist, Sikh and Jain religions that celebrate Diwali, the festival of lights.” Adams said, “As we deal with so much darkness around us, we don’t realize the overwhelming amount of light that is around us. And when we take this period to recognize Diwali, we recognize the light that is within us, the light that can clearly dispel the darkness and that’s why this is so important.” Adams added that the city has identified holidays such as Eid and Lunar New Years.
“We do it with so many other days and so many other cultures that we recognize. It is far too late to tell our Hindu, Sikh, Jain and Buddhist students and communities that, we see you, we recognize you. The inclusiveness of this city is extremely important and this is our chance to say it loudly.” Over the years, there have been increasing calls from the Hindu community to declare Diwali a school holiday, given the hundreds of thousands of Indians living in the area. Once the legislation is in place, Diwali will be a school holiday in New York City starting next year.
Rajkumar noted that people have said that there is simply not enough space in the New York City School calendar to have a Diwali school holiday. This week, Rajkumar introduced legislation in the capital that makes room for Diwali on the school calendar. She said her legislation is scrapping Anniversary Day, a “dark and outdated” day created in the 1800s so it can be replaced by Diwali, “celebrated by a growing number of New Yorkers.” “If this is done, the New York City Department of Education will be able to put the Diwali holiday on the school calendar,” she said, adding that she has put this bill on the table so that all South Asian and Indo-Caribbean New York Yorkers take a seat at the table.
Under New York state education laws, there must be a minimum of 180 days of schooling. However, in order to meet this minimum requirement of 180 days, no more holidays were allowed to be included in the school calendar.
Rajkumar said that by scrapping the obsolete Jubilee Day school holiday that is not observed by anyone, her legislation makes room for Diwali to be a school holiday while also meeting the minimum requirement of 180 days for days of school education.
She thanked Adams for his support and said this is the first time in the city’s history that a mayor has committed to making Diwali a school holiday.
“For more than two decades, South Asians and Indo-Caribbeans have been fighting in New York for the Diwali school holiday. I stand on the shoulders of those advocates. And now we are finally going to realize that goal,” she said.
“Next week we will celebrate Diwali, a celebration of good over evil, light over darkness, of the human capacity to overcome, exemplified by Rama’s defeat of evil. We will embrace the Hindu principles of interfaith, harmony, love and tolerance for all New Yorkers.
“The same Hindu principles that inspired the great American civil rights hero Martin Luther King. We will celebrate the place of our culture in our country’s great civil rights tradition. The sky is the limit for our community,” she said.
Banks said New York City is home to the whole world and children from all communities and backgrounds go to school here.
“And it’s important that we honor and recognize all our young people. And so, the recognition of Diwali is yet another opportunity for us to start celebrating, elevating and honoring those young people, their families and their faith. celebration of light, the triumph of light over darkness is critical,” said Banks.
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