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New York could soon observe Diwali as a federal holiday

With New York paving the way for better recognition of multicultural events in the US, could we see similar moves for Diwali down under?

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The New York State Assembly hopes to pass a legislation to observe Diwali and Lunar New Year as federal holidays.

In a statement released on Wednesday, Assembly Speaker Carl E. Heastie said that it is important to recognise New York’s rich and diverse culture.

“Therefore, it is the intention of the Assembly to pass a legislation to observe Lunar New Year and Diwali as holidays in New York State before the close of our legislative session. We will continue discussions with the stakeholders as to how this might affect the school calendar,” the statement read.

The move comes after endeavours by legislators and members of the diaspora to establish these festivals as recognised holidays in the state.

Congresswoman Grace Meng, representing NY’s 6th Congressional District, will announce the Diwali Day Act, which would designate Diwali as the 12th officially-recognised holiday in the US.

“Our holidays should recognise and reflect the great diversity of our communities and I look forward to these bills moving through the Assembly,” Meng tweeted.

For the announcement, Meng will be joined by Assemblywoman Jenifer Rajkumar, State Senator Joe Addabbo, and Councilman Shekar Krishnan.

Earlier this year in February, lawmakers at the Utah Senate unanimously passed a bill that will make Diwali a state commemorative period, and allow discharge of fireworks during the Indian festival of lights.

Moved by Senator Lincoln Fillmore from South Jordan, the Senate Bill 46 was approved unanimously, ABC4 reported.

The bill would designate Diwali as a state commemorative period and will allow the sale and discharge of fireworks during the five days of Diwali, which is usually between late October and early November.

“I appreciate Utah’s Indian community. Their collaborative efforts to organise events to include the neighbouring communities, as well as their efforts to increase education about Hinduism, Jainism and Sikhism, have helped create a better sense of understanding in our state,” Senator Fillmore said in a statement.

Diwali was celebrated in the White House for the first time in 2002, and in 2007, the US government gave official recognition to the festival.

READ ALSO: How about a day off on Diwali instead of 26 Jan?

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