At a largely attended Diwali Celebrations at the Gracie Mansion, New York City Mayor Eric Adams honored Global Organization of People of Indian Origin (GOPIO), along with its Chairman Dr. Thomas Abraham, for its work in community mobilization and common good of the society in the New York area. Other recognized are Federation of Indian Associations of NY, NJ, CT (FIA) Chairman Ankur Vaidya, Indiaspora Founder M.R. Rangaswamy, Grammy Award Winner Falu Shah and Tulsi Mandir of Richmond Hill Queens represented by its priest Lakra Maharaj and Lion Romeo Hitlall of the Indo-Caribbean community.
This was the first Diwali Celebration by Mayor Adams held at the Gracie mansion on October 25th evening after assuming office as the mayor of the city. Over 1100 people attended the festive celebration with Indian food, dances of India and people dancing to the tune of Bollywood music.
The program started with Mayor’s Chief Advisor Ingrid Lewis-Martin with a welcome saying that she was learning more and more about Diwali and that people from all over world have been celebrating Diwali. She then introduced New York State Assemblywoman Jenifer Rajkumar, who introduced several other elected officials including NYS Senator Kevin Thomas and City Council Members Shekar Krishnan, Amanda Farías and Linda Lee. Others present with Mayor Adams were his senior team members of Indian origin including Deputy Mayor for Operations Meera Joshi, Environmental Protection Commissioner Rohit T. Aggarwala, Health Commissioner Ashwin Vasan and Deputy Commissioner Dilip Chauhan (Trade and Investment).
Assemblywoman Rajkumar said that Goddess Durga showered her blessings, and that was why she won. She further added that she followed the teachings and focused like Arjuna on the Mahabharata, and that is why I won.
Rep, Rajkumar said, “For over two decades, many of you in this room have fought to make Diwali a school holiday in New York City. I’ve been with you in that fight and for the first time, a New York City mayor has stepped forward to lift us up and create the Diwali holiday.”
Mayor Adams in his remarks has said that the Indian American community is very important for New York city. “I looked at during the 70s when we saw such a large wave of those who came from India, moved to Queens, wanted to believe in American dream and you worked hard and opened small businesses, and you sent your children to school to learn different skills so they can be deputy mayors and doctors and leaders of agencies and help our city move forward, fortifying the strength of our city,” said Mayor Adams.
“And you asked me on the campaign trail as we went from location to location, you said, Eric, we want to be acknowledged by having a holiday. While children can not only take off to acknowledge Diwali, but other children will have to now ask the question, “What is Diwali? What does it represent?” And we were faced with an awesome challenge. There were no more days in the calendar and everyone stated it was not possible, however, we have found a solution to make Diwali a holiday in the New York City School System in 2023,” Mayor Adams continued.
Mayor Adams further said, “And finally, we have to live true to what Diwali represents, since, there’s too much darkness engulfing in the desire to just find places we disagree. It is time for us to live up to Diwali, to sit down and communicate, to push back against hate crimes against Sikhs, against AAPI, against those of the LGBTQ+ communities, against African Americans, against Latinos, against Irish and Jewish and Polish and all the other groups that make this city. We need to be the beacon of light that shows the country how we need to push away darkness.”
Mayor Adams concluded and said to live in the spirit of Ram, in the spirit of Sita, in the spirit of Diwali and live up to what this holiday represents and then we would know that we fulfilled our responsibility and obligation.
New York city’s Trade and Investment Deputy Commissioner Dilip Chauhan then introduced each of the honorees to receive their citation which was presented by him, Mayor’s Advisor Chief advisor Ingrid Lewis-Martin and Rep. Jenifer Rajkumar. There were Indian dances before the ceremony started and ended with Bollywood dancing on the floor.