Assembly Announces Passage of Bill Recognizing Diwali as a School Holiday in New York City Public Schools

Speaker Carl Heastie, Assemblymember Jenifer Rajkumar, and Asian Pacific American Task Force Co-Chairs Grace Lee and Zohran K. Mamdani announced today the passage of legislation declaring Diwali as a school holiday in New York City public schools requiring students the day to celebrate with their families (A.7769, Rajkumar).

“New York City is a rich and diverse area, filled with students who need time to celebrate and honor their families’ traditions,” said Speaker Heastie. “I’m honored the Assembly was able to pass this piece of legislation giving a new generation of children the time to spend with their families and honor traditions.”

“I was proud to lead the movement to make Diwali a School Holiday in New York City. And today, I am proud to deliver this victory for my community and for New York. For over 20 years, the South Asian community has fought for this moment. Today, I am proud to announce that the entire New York State Legislature came together and spoke with one voice to pass my bill enshrining the Diwali School Holiday into law. This is a historic moment, as our government recognizes hundreds of thousands of South Asian New Yorkers of the Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist and Jain faiths. Nothing can stop a community whose time has come. As the first Indian-American woman elected to a New York State office, I will always fight for every emerging community to be heard," said Assemblymember Rajkumar.

“The passage of this bill is a true demonstration of what can happen when lawmakers accurately represent the community they represent,” said Assemblymember Lee. “We’re so lucky to have a historic number of Asian American assemblymembers serving our community and working together to ensure our Pan-Asian communities have a voice in this chamber and across the state. Requiring Diwali be a school holiday for students in New York City public schools is just one step forward in this continued mission.”

“For too long, too many children across New York City have celebrated Diwali while being forced to choose between their faith and their future. I am incredibly excited to announce a new chapter in our city’s history with the passage of this legislation,” said Assemblymember Mamdani. “2023 will be the final year that Diwali goes unobserved in the calendar New York City schools, as we have taken a promise and made it into a policy. The work to recognize our communities’ place and worth in this state continues, but this is a substantial step forward and we will endeavor that Diwali soon be recognized across the entirety of our state.”

Diwali, also known as Deepavali or the Festival of Lights, is one of the most widely celebrated holidays in Southern and Southeast Asia and Indo-Caribbean communities and is a sacred day for Hindus, Sikhs, Jains and Buddhists. In New York City alone, over 200,000 people celebrate and honor the holiday each year.

Diwali is observed in October or November as designated by the Indian calendar.