Mayor Eric Adams announced in a press conference this past Thursday, October 20, that Diwali will now be recognized as a NYC school holiday.
In order for the school calendar to still have 180 school days as required by New York’s education laws, Anniversary Day will be swapped out, which on the first Thursday in June every year observes the founding of the First Sunday School on Long Island. Being the actual celebration of the festival is ever changing, the holiday will fall on a different school day each year.
“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. “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.”
According to Adams, the decision is 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,” the mayor said.
Though the bill still needs to pass in Albany, it’s likely it will be in effect by the 2023 school year.