'Diwali' Added To New York Public School Holidays

After much deliberations, it has been announced that Diwali is going to be slated as a New York City public school holiday which would be starting by next year in 2023.

The Mayor of New York Eric Adams and the New York Schools Chancellor, David Banks had made the announcement on Thursday as the school calendar had been moved around to make room for the important holiday for many religions.

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Officials eliminated “Anniversary Day” as a holiday, which had also been allowing the school system to add Diwali to the calendar while still meeting the required 180 days a year in school.

Diwali, or the Festival of Lights, has been described as one of the most significant holidays in India that traditionally spans for up to five days and the holiday signifies the triumph of light over dark and the return of Lord Rama after he defeated the demon King Ravana.

The holiday also taked place on October 24 this year.

As the first South Asian elected to state office, Thursday was a day that Assemblywoman Jenifer Rajkumar was presumably most proud of.

“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,” she said.

Representing those hundreds of thousands of families, Rajkumar announced new legislations that would make Diwali a school holiday.

“We’ve done this before, identifying holidays,” Adams said. “We’ve done it with Eid, we’ve done it with Lunar New Years. We do it with so many other days and so many other cultures that we acknowledge.”

The fight to make Diwali a school holiday has been 10 years in the making.

For Mohamed Q. Amin with the Caribbean Equity Project, Thursday’s announcement doesn’t cut it.

“The mayor came to our community and promised us, virtually and within our communities that he was going to make Diwali, when he takes office,” Amin said.

Amin and advocates hoped that Adams would make an executive order to convert a snow day for the sacred festival of lights. Now he’s concerned state legislation could drag out much longer.

“Our message to the mayor will always be, make Diwali a holiday,” Amin said. “We don’t want it to be next year, we don’t want it to be two years from now. We want it now.”

While a petition by students on Change.org has nearly 5,000 signatures to make Diwali a school holiday, the mayor’s office said state law has to be changed first.


Africa Today News, New York

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