“This is a solid community,” says NYC mayor Eric Adams recognizing Indian Americans’ contributions to the US
Recognizing the growing influence of the Indian American community, Diwali, the Indian festival of lights is set to become a public school holiday in New York City from next year.
“This is an educational moment because when we acknowledge Diwali, we are going to encourage children to learn about Diwali,” New York City Mayor Eric Adams said announcing the move at a press conference Thursday.
Read: New York World Trade Center to be lit up for All-American Diwali (November 2, 2021)
“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 yourself,” he said. “As we deal with so much darkness that is around us, we fail to realize the overwhelming amount of light that is around us.”
“And when we take this period to acknowledge Diwali, we are acknowledging the light that is within us, the light that clearly can push away darkness and that is why this is so significant,” Adams added.
Acknowledging the contributions of the Indian American community, the mayor said, “We wanted to send a loud and clear message to the countless number of people who acknowledge this period of time of celebration.”
“I spent a lot of time in these communities, they’re hard working New Yorkers. They contribute to our society. They believe in family, they believe in public safety,” he said.
“Some of the highest educational achievements are among this community. The highest, almost middle class living standard is among this community. This is a solid community, not only in our city but throughout our entire country,” Adams added.
“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,” said state assembly member Jenifer Rajkumar who has introduced legislation to recognize Diwali.
“When my parents immigrated to the United States with just $300 and a suitcase, they never would’ve imagined that I’d be standing here as your state assemblywoman,” said the first South Asian American woman elected to state-level office in New York.
“Today, South Asian and Indo-Caribbean families like mine all over this city have made incredible contributions. And today, I’m proud to say, our time has come,” she said.
“People have said that there’s simply not enough room in the New York City school calendar to have a Diwali school holiday,” she said. “Well, my legislation makes the room.”
Read: Diwali will be honored as an official holiday in New York City schools (October 21, 2022)
The new school schedule will still have 180 school days, as is required by the state’s education laws, Rajkumar noted.
Adding Diwali to the school calendar replaces the little-known Brooklyn-Queens Day — which originated as a Protestant holiday celebrated in the 1800s.