US: New York City to celebrate ‘Diwali’ as a public school holiday from 2023

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Diwali, not just a festival but an emotion for millions will now be a public holiday in New York City, United States from the year 2023, the mayor announced on Thursday (October 21).

Eric Adams, the mayor announced along with New York Assembly Member Jenifer Rajkumar, who proposed the legislation to recognise ‘Diwali’ at NYC schools, CNN reported. 

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The mayor further said that the decision was a “long overdue” acknowledgement for the Hind, Sikh, Jain, and Buddhists. 

During a press conference, Rajkumar said, “The time has come to recognise over 200,000 New Yorkers of the Hindu, Buddhist, Sikh, and Jain faiths who celebrate Diwali, the Festival of Lights.”

This time, the legislators switched out ‘Anniversary Day,’ or ‘Brooklyn-Queen Day’ for the Hindu festival Diwali. Rajkumar further called ‘Anniversary Day’ “an obscure and antiquated day,” as compared to Diwali. 

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The assembly member further said that people said that there was no space for the festival to be put on the school calendar and now the new legislation has made space for it. 

The Anniversary dates back to 1829, and schools have been observing a day since the mid-1990s. 

The New York mayor during the conference said that the legislation will make students learn more about Diwali and its celebrations. He said, “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,”  CNN reported. 

(With inputs from agencies)

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