A step in the long march for equality and equity

Ravindra Goyal

Hindu Center Inc., Flushing & Chairman, Indo American Foundation New York Inc.

Community leaders have advocated for this recognition for more than a decade and their faith and effort have finally borne fruit. Diwali is to become an official holiday by the largest public school system in America.

With a joyful smile, my ten-year-old granddaughter asked me why we celebrate Deepavali. I told her that there are many stories of Deepavali but that for all Indians the holiday represents the victory of the forces of good over the forces of evil that want to tear us apart.

My granddaughter realizes that the official recognition means that more people will be curious and want to know more about her religion and her culture. She is thrilled to be an ‘ambassador’ for India and is collecting stories and artifacts about Diwali to share with her friends, teachers, and community. This is one more step in the long march for equality and equity.

Appreciation, acceptance, and recognition of Indians

Gobind Bathija

CEO & President, GBN Enterprises

Diwali is a day of joy, the time when we gather with loved ones, celebrating our family, friends, and the prosperity God has bestowed upon us. Diwali is also the beginning of a new year. As an immigrant community leader, I feel it is very important for us to come together and be a unified whole.

In our wholeness as Indian Americans lie our strength, particularly in these times. As we witness the appreciation, acceptance, encouragement, and recognition of the contributions of Indian Americans domestically in the United States, we can also celebrate our resounding commitments during the Diwali celebration of light, dispelling the darkness of ignorance.

Beginning in 2023, NYC Schools will observe the Diwali holiday. Some schools on Long Island with a heavy concentration of Indian-Americans already observe the holiday with closing.

For me, as I grow older, the spiritual aspect of Diwali becomes more and more crucial. Diwali light shines bright on our culture, our heritage, and our families. We interpret the Diwali story based on where they live. But there’s one common theme no matter where people celebrate: the victory of good over evil.

A proud moment for all Indians

Bina Sabapathy

President, India Association of Long Island

Back home, Deepavali was a three-day-long Holiday festival. The fun of staying home with family members and enjoying the festival was really something that will not be forgotten down memory lane. After coming over here, I felt that enjoyment was never there in all those Deepavali we celebrated when the kids were young. With this hectic life, there was little time left for the celebration of Deepavali. I always wished for a day off on Deepavali day.

This Deepavali is very special as the historical decision of Diwali being a holiday from the next academic session in NYC schools has been announced. When I heard the news, my joy had no measure. Many years of hard work by community leaders finally paid off. It is a proud moment for all Indians. After “Deepavali Stamp,” now “Deepavali Holiday” is another big accomplishment of the collective effort of all our community leaders.

Thanks to the Governor of NY for understanding the importance of Deepavali. The Indian community greatly appreciates the decision of making it a Holiday. Next year onwards more Deepavali Diya will be illuminating in every household.

A historical decision

Meera Gandhi

Founder, The Giving Back Foundation

A historical decision of making the Hindu and largely Indian Festival of Lights and hope- “Diwali” will be declared a holiday from the next academic session in NYC schools has been made. NY has always been a leader in social reform. Indians are now leading the world whether it’s tech heads, Pharma heads, or political heads, this is the time brilliant and kind, and intelligent Indians are being recognized.

It is truly fitting that this holiday has been finally adopted. I salute both the lawmakers and the lobbyists as I am truly overjoyed to hear the good news.

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