NEW YORK (AP) — New York City will add the festival of Diwali 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, happens October or November depending on the lunar calendar.
However, this year it falls on Sunday Nov. 12 — so the 2023-2024 school calendar will not be affected by the change.
City officials say more that 200,000 New York City residents celebrate Diwali, which is observed by Hindus, Sikhs, Jains and some Buddhists.
“This is a city that’s continuously changing, continuously welcoming communities from all over the world,” Adams said in announcing that Diwali will join celebrations including 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 made Diwali a school holiday when he ran for mayor in 2021, said he expects Hochul to sign the bill. A request for comment was sent to the governor’s office.
U.S. Rep. Grace Meng, a Democrat who represents parts of the New York City borough of Queens, introduced legislation last month to make Diwali a federal holiday.