Governor Kathy Hochul has approved a law that designates Diwali as a official holiday for New York City public schools. This legislation mandates the closure of all public schools in the city on Diwali, which falls on the fifteenth day of the eighth month of the Indian calendar every year. “The School calendar is being updated to acknowledge and honor the diverse religions and cultures present in New York City, the proposal to make Diwali an official holiday in New York City schools presents a chance for our children to gain knowledge about and join in the festivities of various global traditions.” Governor Hochul said.
Legislative bill S.7574/A.7769 aims to modify the education law by designating Diwali as an official holiday in New York City’s public schools. This festival is widely observed by followers of the Hindu, Sikh, Jain, and Buddhist religions in the city and across the state. Additionally, Diwali is celebrated by over 1 billion individuals worldwide.
State Senator Joseph Addabbo expressed that “I am very grateful for Governor Hochul’s approval to recognize Diwali as a school holiday. I would also like to commend Assemblymember Jenifer Rajkumar for her efforts in passing this legislation in the Assembly, as well as my legislative team for their work in getting my bill passed in the Senate. Diwali is a joyful event that holds great significance for millions of people worldwide and in our state. As we come together to celebrate this festival, we are reminded of its message – the victory of light over darkness, knowledge over ignorance, and good over evil. In these times of racism and anger, Diwali’s message is incredibly important and necessary. The celebration not only showcases the cultural heritage of our diverse community, but also reminds us of the values that unite us. It emphasizes the importance of compassion, kindness, and understanding in our interactions with one another. May this Diwali bring you and your loved ones an abundance of joy, wealth, and good health. Let us strive to embrace the spirit of Diwali not only during the festive season, but in our daily lives as well, by spreading love, light, and happiness to those around us. Once again, I extend my gratitude to Governor Hochul for spreading the positive message of Diwali.”
Assemblymember Jenifer Rajkumar stated “I am delighted to have led and succeeded in advocating for the inclusion of the Diwali School Holiday this year. Today, the groundbreaking Diwali bill that I pushed for has been officially enacted into law. As the first ever Indian-American and Hindu elected to the New York State Office, I express my gratitude to Governor Hochul for signing this monumental bill. For more than twenty years, the South Asian community has been campaigning for the recognition of the Diwali holiday. By signing my bill, we have established a lasting tradition that will resonate in the hearts and minds of all New Yorkers. This accomplishment will endure beyond my lifetime, as future generations of New Yorkers will now have the opportunity to celebrate Diwali, the Festival of Lights. Through the endorsement of my bill, we send a powerful message to over 600,000 Hindu, Sikh, Jain, and Buddhist New Yorkers – we acknowledge your presence, we respect your traditions, and Diwali is now an American holiday.”
Dr. Dilip Nath, the newly appointed president of the New American Voter Association, expressed his opinion by stating, “The contributions made by the Hindu, Jain, and Sikh communities to our state are extensive and should not be underestimated. It brings me great pride to witness Gov Kath Hochul finally transforming the longstanding recognition of Diwali holiday into a legal obligation. This ensures that on the day of Diwali, no student will have to compromise between celebrating with their family or fulfilling their school responsibilities.”
The President of the Indian Diaspora Council International, Ashook Ramsaran, stated that “The Indian Diaspora Council International expresses its admiration for Governor Kathy Hochul and the NYS Legislature for approving Diwali as a school holiday in New York City, with the unwavering support of Mayor Eric Adams. This is a significant accomplishment that follows years of grassroots efforts in New York. The IDC is pleased that Diwali is now celebrated nationwide in the White House, various state governments, and city councils. Diwali symbolizes the victory of light over darkness and good over evil, and its teachings are especially relevant in a world facing turmoil, inhumanity, and division.”
Japneet Singh, the President of the Khalsa Community, stated ” This is an important occasion for the entire South Asian diaspora. For Sikhs, Diwali represents Liberation as it marks the day Guru Hargobind, our sixth Guru, was released from prison. Furthermore, he advocated for the release of 52 Hindu Kings who were also unjustly imprisoned. As a result, Diwali holds a significant meaning for Sikhs, known as Bandi Chhor Divas or ‘prisoner release day.’ On this day, we honor and remember those who still face oppression, and we recommit ourselves to fighting for justice wherever it may be needed. The signing of this historic bill by the Governor will now enable communities celebrating Diwali to educate their friends and peers on its importance to us. When I was growing up attending public schools in NYC, I often felt torn between prioritizing my education or my faith. However, the next generation of South Asians will now have the privilege to embrace both, which is truly a significant development for all of us.”
The Hindu community in New York is thrilled by the recent development of Governor Kathy Hochul signing the Diwali Bill. This means that the 300,000 New Yorkers who observe Diwali can now celebrate it together with their families without the need to keep their children out of school.
Nabaraj KC, a prominent member of the Nepali community and an executive committee member of Hami Nepali, expressed, “We express deep gratitude to Governor Kathy Hochul, on behalf of the Nepali Community, for acknowledging the Hindu community and Diwali, a festival of lights.“