Diwali will be a public school holiday in New York City starting next year. Mayor Eric Adams announced the same on Thursday with state assembly woman Jenifer Rajkumar. The announcement comes two days before the festival of lights, which falls on October 24 this year.
Mayor Adams called the decision a “long overdue acknowledgment of Hindu, Sikh, Jain and Buddhist communities.” Further, he added that the state had already recognised Eid as public holidays.
“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,” ANI quoted Rajkumar in a press conference, who introduced legislation to recognise Diwali.
“For over two decades South Asians and Indo-Caribbeans in New York have been fighting for the Diwali school holiday. I stand on the shoulders of those advocates. And now we are finally going to realise that goal,” Rajkumar said during the press conference.
“This had been a long pending demand of the Indian-American community. The recognition gives a deeper meaning to diversity and pluralism in New York City while allowing people from all walks of life to experience, celebrate and enjoy Indian ethos and heritage,” PTI quoted Consul General of India in New York, Randhir Jaiswal.
The daughter of Indian immigrants who settled in Queens, Rajkumar was born and raised in New York. According to her website, her parents had arrived in the US with only $300 and a suitcase in their possession. After earning degrees from Stanford Law School and the University of Pennsylvania, Rajkumar worked as New York State’s director of immigrant affairs. She oversaw the $31 million project to help immigrants have access to legal services. Among her other major achievements is the fact that she passed a legislative package providing full protections of the New York State Human Rights Law to domestic workers. Currently, she represents the 38th district of Queens in the New York State Assembly as a Democrat.