Diwali to be NYC public school holiday starting 2023

New York: Diwali, the “festival of lights” will be a New York City public school holiday starting next year in 2023. Mayor Eric Adams, alongside state assemblywoman Jenifer Rajkumar, and Schools Chancellor David Banks announced Thursday that the school calendar was moved around to make room for the Diwali holiday.

“We can get this done during this legislative session so next year we can say as the City of New York that Diwali is a school holiday,” declared Mayor Adams. Officials have planned to eliminate “Anniversary Day” as a holiday, 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, is one of the most significant holidays in India that traditionally spans five days.

For over two decades South Asians and Indo-Caribbeans in New York have been fighting for the Diwali school holiday. During the conference, Adams called the decision a “long overdue” acknowledgment of Hindu, Sikh, Jain, and Buddhist communities.

“This is an educational moment because when we acknowledge Diwali, we are going to encourage children to learn about Diwali. We’re going to have them start talking about what it is to celebrate the Festival of lights, and how to turn the light on within self,” said Adams, “It is long overdue to say to our Hindu, Sikhs, Jain, and Buddhist students and communities that, we see you, we acknowledge you.”

During an exclusive interview with The South Asian Times during his campaign, Eric Adam as a Mayoral candidate had promised to fulfill the long-standing demand of Indian American diaspora to declare Diwali as a school holiday in the New York metro area. The South Asian Times endorsed his candidacy for the Mayor of New York elections in 2021. “On the campaign trail, I learned so much about the Diwali holiday, what it means, the Festival of Lights,” Mayor Adams said Thursday.

“This week I introduced legislation in our state capital that makes room for Diwali in our school calendar. My legislation removes Anniversary Day, an obscure and antiquated day created in the 1800s so that it can be replaced with Diwali, celebrated by a growing number of New Yorkers,” assemblywoman Rajkumar said.

Image courtesy of (Image: Twitter/ @nycgov)

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