Diwali will be a public school holiday in New York City from 2023

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New York’s major has announced plans to make Diwali a new holiday in the state’s public school schedule.

Addressing reporters at a press conference, Mayor Eric Adams, joined by state assemblywoman Jenifer Rajkumar and Department of Education chancellor David Banks, has confirmed the Festival of Lights will be a public school holiday in New York City starting 2023.

It will replace Anniversary Day, also called Brooklyn-Queens Day, that commemorates the founding of the first Sunday school in these boroughs.

Mayor Adams noted that this move was a “long overdue” acknowledgement of the significant multicultural festival.

“We are going to encourage children to learn about what is Diwali,” he said. “We’re going to have them start talking about what it is to celebrate the Festival of Lights, and how do you turn a light on within yourself.”

“The time has come to recognize over 200,000 New Yorkers of the Hindu, Buddhist, Sikh and Jain faiths who celebrate Diwali, the Festival of Lights,” said Rajkumar, who added that Anniversary Day is an “antiquated day” compared to Diwali.

In Australia, there have been numerous discussions over the years around a potential Diwali holiday for the country’s now 700,000 strong diaspora community. Last year, a Change.org petition addressed to Premier of Victoria Dan Andrews received over 13,000 signatures towards this.

“I want to celebrate Diwali with the local community. I would love to celebrate it with my family at home, not at work on this auspicious day,” commented one signatory.

“Diwali is [an] Indian traditional festival which all Indians have right to celebrate and enjoy peacefully, not with the stress by taking leave. All Indians respect all religions festivals. In India, it’s holiday for Christmas so expecting same respect and holiday when we move to another country,” said another user.

Nicola Young, Acting Deputy Secretary of the Fairer Victoria group that is responsible for multicultural affairs in the state, acknowledged the petition and significance of the festival, but ultimately noted that “new public holidays are not being considered at this time.”

READ ALSO: ‘Lucky to be so multicultural’: how mixed families celebrate Diwali

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