NEW YORK (AP) — New York City will add the Diwali festival to the list of public school holidays in recognition of the growth of the city’s South Asian and Indo-Caribbean communities, Mayor Eric Adams announced Monday.
Diwali, known as the festival of lights, occurs in October or November, depending on the lunar calendar.
However, this year it falls on Sunday, November 12, which means the 2023-2024 school calendar will not be affected by the change. City officials say more than 200,000 New York City residents celebrate Diwali, which is observed by Hindus, Sikhs, Jains and some Buddhists.
“This is a city that is continually changing, welcoming communities from all over the world,” Adams said, announcing that Diwali will join holidays like Rosh Hashana and Lunar New Year as a day off for students. “Our school calendar must reflect the new reality on the ground.”
The new holiday will become official if Gov. Kathy Hochul, also a Democrat, signs a bill passed by the New York state legislature earlier this month making Diwali a public school holiday in New York City.
Adams, who pledged to make Diwali a school holiday when he ran for mayor in 2021, said he hopes Hochul signs the bill. The governor’s office said Hochul, which hosted a Diwali celebration last fall, is reviewing all bills passed by the legislature in 2023.
The push for official recognition of Diwali comes as South Asians have gained numbers and influence in New York and nationally.
The population of New York City residents classified as Asian Indian by the Census Bureau has more than doubled in the past three decades, from 94,000 in 1990 to approximately 213,000 in the 2021 American Community Survey.