July 14, 2015 By Michael Florio
Local advocates are calling for Diwali, the five-day festival of lights celebrated by those in the Hindu, Sikh, Jain and Buddhist communities, to be recognized as a holiday in New York City public schools.
Jackson Height’s Councilman and Chair of the New York City Council Education Committee, Daniel Dromm, addressed the issue yesterday at Sri Shaniwara Temple, located at 95-30 225th Street in Queens Village.
“The time has come for the Department of Education to recognize the importance of Diwali and to use it as a tool to promote acceptance and understanding,” Dromm said.
New York is home to well over 250,000 residents who follow these faiths, and recognition of Diwali as a public school holiday will be an important acknowledgement of their countless contributions to this great city, said Ali Najmi, City Council candidate in the currently vacant district 23, who organized yesterday’s gathering.
Najmi stated that these religious groups should receive the respect they deserve from the city, by adding the holiday to the school holiday calendar, calling it the right thing to do.
“Hindu, Sikh, Jain, and the Buddhist communities should have their holiday recognized,” he said.
“New York has a wonderful tradition of adapting to the needs of new and growing communities – let’s continue that tradition by adding Diwali to the school calendar,” he added.
While Dromm is City Council’s Education Committee Chair, it will ultimately be the Mayor Bill de Blasio who will have to make it an official holiday on the school calendar.
The mayor did add Eid al-Fitr, which marks the end of the Ramadan fast, Eid al-Adha, which commemorates Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son, and the Lunar New Year, which is celebrated in many Asian countries, to the school calendar this year.