QUEENS, NY: U.S. Rep. Grace Meng (D-NY), First Vice Chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, joined New York City Mayor Eric Adams and New York City Schools Chancellor David Banks at City Hall in Manhattan to commemorate Diwali becoming a public school holiday in New York City.
“Nearly a decade ago, I worked with then-Mayor Bill de Blasio to create a New York City school holiday for Lunar New Year, and when it was finally established, I was ecstatic,” said Meng. “I also hailed the decision to close our public schools for Eid. But I also said, what about Diwali? I argued, and have continued to argue, that kids who celebrate the Festival of Lights also deserve to be recognized with a holiday of their own, so they too could celebrate with loved ones, and not miss a day of school. So, I and my colleagues pushed for this school holiday to happen, and I cannot be happier that we are now on the cusp of our efforts becoming a reality. The time has come for our school system to acknowledge and appreciate this important observance, just as it rightly does for holidays of other cultures and ethnicities. And doing so will further reflect the rich and vibrant diversity that exists in our great city, and how we should all embrace it. I eagerly await seeing the first Diwali holiday for New York City’s public schools.”
In addition to celebrating with the Mayor and Schools Chancellor, the Congresswoman joined New York Assemblywoman Jenifer Rajkumar and New York State Senator Joe Addabbo, the lawmakers who sponsored the legislation in the New York State Legislature. Other lawmakers and many advocates were in attendance as well. The bill recently passed New York State Assembly and State Senate, and now must be signed by Governor Kathy Hochul.
Last month, Meng introduced a bill in Congress to make Diwali a federal holiday. Under the Diwali Day Act, Diwali would become the 12th federally recognized holiday in the United States.
Diwali, also known as Deepavali or the Festival of Lights, is one of the most important holidays for many in the South Asian, Southeast Asian and Indo-Caribbean communities, as well as many religious groups including Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs and Jains. Billions around the world celebrate Diwali, including the millions who commemorate the holiday in the United States.