In a momentous step towards embracing diversity and acknowledging the rich tapestry of cultures that make up the vibrant city, New York City has declared Diwali, the festival of lights, as a school holiday. The festival of lights would become the 12th officially declared holiday in the United States of America.
The bill was proposed by Assemblywoman Jenifer Rajkumar, the first Indian American woman ever elected to a New York State office. The proposal seeks to include Diwali in the public school schedule. Jenifer was proud to deliver this win for New York, and for America after fighting over two decades.
Every year, an estimated 200,000 New Yorkers celebrate Diwali with lavish festivities throughout the city’s South Asian and Indo-Caribbean communities. It would eliminate the need for thousands of children, parents, and faculty to choose between celebrating Diwali and skipping school or work.
Fostering Inclusivity and Understanding
Diwali being declared a holiday in New York City schools is more than just merely a day off but a potent sign of inclusivity. The city exhibits its commitment to fostering a sense of belonging and understanding among its diverse population by acknowledging the many religious practices of its citizens. This choice promotes communication, empathetic understanding, and respect for various cultures, which aids in bridging gaps between social groups.
By declaring Diwali, a holiday, New York City not only recognizes the significance of this festival but gives students a chance to connect with their cultural history and share traditions with their classmates.
A Model for Other Cities
New York City’s progressive stance on recognizing Diwali as a school holiday sets an inspiring example for other cities across the United States and throughout the world. It conveys the idea that accepting cultural diversity is not only feasible but also crucial for promoting harmony in society. We go closer to a society where everybody feels valued, represented, and included as more cities adopt similar policies, recognising and honouring the religious practices of various communities.
Significance of Diwali
Diwali, also known as Deepavali, is one of the biggest and most essential festival for Indians from the Indian culture. It delights people with its joyful celebration and illuminates the whole nation with its splendour. Diwali, one of the holiest occasions, is celebrated by Hindus, Jains and Sikhs, for a number of reasons not just in India but also in southern Asia and other places throughout the world.
The event, also mark the start of Hindu New Year, symbolising the victory of light over darkness. Diwali occurs on the fifteenth day of the Hindu calendar’s month of Kartik, and each of its four days is marked with distinct, well-defined customs that are accompanied by feelings of joy and kindness.