Diwali, the Hindu celebration known as the “Festival of Lights,” will be a public school holiday in New York City starting next year.
Mayor Eric Adams announced plans to include the holiday in the public school schedule at a press conference on Thursday morning, alongside state assemblywoman Jenifer Rajkumar and Department of Education chancellor David Banks.
Legislators swapped out Anniversary Day, traditionally celebrated on the first Thursday in June, for Diwali in the public school calendar. Diwali is a major Hindu festival but is also celebrated by some Buddhists, Sikhs and Jains. The date of Diwali fluctuates. This year, the five-day holiday will start on October 24.
“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,” Rajkumar, who introduced legislation to recognize Diwali, said in the press conference. She called Anniversary Day “an obscure and antiquated day,” as compared to Diwali, which is celebrated by a “growing number of New Yorkers.”
“When we take this period to acknowledge Diwali, we’re acknowledging the light that is within us, the light that clearly can push away darkness,” the mayor said.