Governor Hochul Signs Legislation Making Diwali a School Holiday

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(WNY News Now) -Governor Kathy Hochul has approved legislation that designates Diwali as an official school holiday in New York City, recognizing the significance of the festival in Hinduism, Jainism, and Sikhism and celebrating the cultural contributions of the South Asian community.

New York City – Governor Kathy Hochul has taken a significant step in acknowledging the cultural diversity of New York City by signing legislation, S.7574/A.7769, that designates Diwali as an official school holiday for all public schools in the city. The legislation mandates the closure of schools on the fifteenth day of the eighth month of the Indian calendar, corresponding to Diwali, a major religious festival observed in Hinduism, Jainism, and Sikhism.

Diwali, a five-day festival symbolizing the victory of light over darkness, is celebrated from the 13th day of the dark half of the lunar month Ashvina to the second day of the light half of the lunar month Karttika. The festival, usually falling in late October and November in the Gregorian calendar, derives its name from the Sanskrit term ‘dipavali,’ meaning “row of lights.”

The decision to recognize Diwali as a school holiday underscores the importance of the South Asian community in the state of New York. Governor Hochul emphasized the significant contributions of individuals of South Asian descent in various fields, including business, elected officials, medicine, law, and education. Whether first generation, second generation, or third generation, these individuals have established New York as their home.

This move is particularly poignant given the rise in hate crimes, with a notable increase in anti-Asian violence and harassment since the beginning of the pandemic in February 2020. Statistics reveal a staggering 700 percent surge in such incidents, highlighting the need for inclusive measures to foster understanding and appreciation for diverse cultures. Governor Hochul’s decision to recognize Diwali as a school holiday is seen as a step towards promoting inclusivity and cultural understanding during a time when unity is crucial.

Leaders from various fields within the South Asian community have welcomed the decision, expressing gratitude for the acknowledgment of their cultural traditions and practices. The move is expected to not only provide a day of cultural significance for students and their families but also contribute to fostering a more inclusive educational environment.

In a broader context, this legislative action aligns with the ongoing efforts to address and combat discrimination and bias, emphasizing the importance of unity and shared cultural understanding. Governor Hochul’s commitment to recognizing Diwali as a school holiday reflects a broader commitment to creating an inclusive and welcoming environment for all residents of New York City.

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