Known as the “Festival of Lights,” Diwali is India’s biggest and most important holiday of the year, and though it’s usually celebrated sometime between October and November, it never found itself on the NYC school holiday list.
Now, after state lawmakers once again pushed to get this holiday recognized on the NYC school calendar, NY State officially passed the bill on Friday, June 9. If Governor Kathy Hochul signs it into law the bill will go into effect on July 1 and allow all public schools in the city to close in observance of the holiday.
“The New York State Legislature’s approval of [this measure] is a wonderful reminder and celebration of the great diversity that exists in our state, and underscores how this diversity should be reflected in the holidays observed by our residents,” Rep. Grace Meng of Queens said in a statement, according to NY1.
“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,” stated state assemblywoman Jennifer Rajkumar last October. “People have said that there’s simply not enough room in the New York City school calendar to have a Diwali school holiday. Well, my legislation makes the room.”
Last October it was said that in order for the school calendar to still have 180 school days as required by New York’s education laws, Anniversary Day would be swapped out, which on the first Thursday in June every year observes the founding of the First Sunday School on Long Island.
Adams stated in October that the decision was a “long overdue” acknowledgment of Hindu, Sikh, Jain and Buddhist communities.
“We are going to encourage children to learn about what is Diwali,” 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” stated Adams. “When we take this period to acknowledge Diwali, we’re acknowledging the light that is within us, the light that clearly can push away darkness.”