New York City students could soon have a day off to observe Diwali, an important holiday for many religions. It’s part of a city-state partnership to allow the change in the city, CBS2’s Nick Caloway reported recently.
“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,” said New York State Assembly Member Jenifer Rajkumar.
Rajkumar, the first Hindu American and South Asian woman elected to state office in New York, and Mayor Eric Adams announced the plan recently. “South Asian and Indo-Caribbean families like mine all over this city have made incredible contributions. And today, I’m proud to say our time has come,” said Rajkumar.
New Yorkers from all walks of life came to Albany to advocate for Diwali to be a School Holiday. With the support of Eric Adams Mayor, New York City and school Chancellor David Banks, Assembly Member, Jenifer Rajkumar introduced legislation to make Diwali a school holiday. Jenifer Rajkumar said that time has come to make School Holiday Now, as she introduced New York State Assembly Bill A7062A, “Establishes the Diwali school holiday in certain qualifying school districts to commemorate the Hindu festival of lights.”
“As the first Hindu-American and South Asian-American woman elected to state office in New York, I take special pride in advocating for new American communities, including those that celebrate Diwali,” Rajkumar said. “The South Asian, Indo-Caribbean, Hindu, Sikh, Jain and Buddhist communities are a vital part of our city’s gorgeous mosaic, contributing to every sector of our society,” she said. “It is long past time to honor their vibrant cultural heritage by making Diwali a school holiday, as community leaders have advocated for years. The time has come.”
A similar bill (S151) was introduced in the New York State Senate by Sen. Kevin Thomas. Thomas, the first Indian American is sponsoring a bill to give districts the ability to close on six additional religious holidays — two Islamic, two Hindu, one Sikh and Christian Good Friday. New York City schools already close on the Lunar New Year and Islamic Eid al-Fitr. Some Long Island schools have already added Diwali to their calendar.
More than 300,000 Hindus, Jain, Sikhs celebrate festival of Diwali in New York . It’s only fair that Diwali should be a school Holiday so that children can celebrate Diwali with their families.
Jagdish Sewhani, a community leader said that it’s “unfair for Hindu students in New York City to be at school on their most popular festival, Diwali. If schools had declared holidays around other religious days, why not Diwali then?”
South Asians and Indo-Caribbean in New York are fighting for Diwali school holiday for ages. It should be a public holiday in New York City, then New York State and consequently other states should fall on track.
“It’s time to recognize more than 300,000 Hindu, Buddhist, Sikh and Jain faiths New Yorkers to celebrate Diwali, the Festival of Lights. Thousands of students, parents, and faculty would not have to select between observing the day or missing school or work,” asserted Jagdish Sewhani, President, American India Public Affairs Committee.
Hinduism is not only the oldest and third largest religion of the world but it is rich in festivals. More so religious festivals are very precious and sacred to Hindus. Diwali, the festival of lights, drive out the darkness and light up the lives, representing the victory of good over evil. It indicates the occasion of Bhagwan Shri Ram returning to Ayodhya after 14 years of exile.In India Christmas is national holiday,It should be a national holiday in USA also asserted Mr Sewhani.
Senator John Liu , Senator Kevin Thomas , Assemblyman David Weprin and many more showed their Support for this Bill to Make Diwali a school holiday.