Come 2023, the festival of lights, Diwali, will be an annual public school holiday in New York City.
There is a big reason to cheer for the faithful Hindus. Come 2023, the festival of lights, Diwali, will be an annual public school holiday in New York City (NYC).
The decision, announced by NYC mayor Eric Adams, holds significance at a time when Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government has made concerted efforts to strengthen Indo-US relations under each regime led by Barack Obama, Donald Trump and Joe Biden over trade partnerships and personal favours, which many say were neglected for decades.
The move also comes with the Modi government’s renewed thrust on protecting Hindu customs and traditions of India on a world stage with a raft of developmental projects like the Mahakal Lok in Ujjain, Kashi Vishwanath and the grand Ram Temple in Ayodhya – the birthplace of Lord Rama.
The decision by the NYC mayor came coinciding with PM Modi’s ongoing visit to the revered Kedarnath shrine.
“For over two decades, South Asians and Indo-Caribbeans in New York have been fighting for the Diwali school holiday. The time has come to recognise over 200,000 New Yorkers of the Hindu, Buddhist, Sikh and Jain faiths who celebrate Diwali, the Festival of Lights,” Democrat Jenifer Rajkumar, who introduced legislation to recognise Diwali, said.
She called Anniversary Day “an obscure and antiquated day,” as compared to Diwali, which is celebrated by a “growing number of New Yorkers.”
Diwali, the festival to celebrate the triumph of light over darkness, replaces the little-known Anniversary Day. The decision also fulfils a campaign pledge by Adams, who said that the action was “long overdue” for the city’s Hindu, Sikh, Jain and Buddhist students and communities that celebrate Diwali.
“We’ve done it with Eid, we’ve done it with the Lunar New Year. We do it with so many other days and so many other cultures that we acknowledge,” Adams said. “We are going to encourage children to learn about Diwali,” he added.
“We’re going to have them start talking about what it is to celebrate the Festival of Lights, and how you turn a light on within yourself,” Adams further added.