NEW YORK, NEW YORK, May 14, 2021 (BK Reader): New York State Assemblywoman Jenifer Rajkumar recently introduced a new bill (Bill #A7062) to establish Diwali as a school holiday. The bill comes after decades of advocating for recognition of New York’s enormous East Asian population and Diwali as an important holiday for its residents. Diwali is a Festival of Lights is the biggest holiday of the year in India and is celebrated by Hindus, Sikhs, Jains and Buddhists. Usually occurring in October or November, the celebration dates back more than 2,500 years. The festival celebrates the triumph of good over evil, with many tales circulating to commemorate the holiday.

Rajkumar was the first Hindu-American and South Asian-American woman elected to the NY state office. As such, she hopes to honor the significance of local communities who celebrate Diwali. “The South Asian, Indo-Caribbean, Hindu, Sikh, Jain, and Buddhist communities are a vital part of our city’s Gorgeous Mosaic, contributing to every sector of our society,” said Rajkumar. There are over 226,000 Indian Americans residing in New York City, according to the 2018 American Community Survey. Advocacy for recognition of Diwali as an important holiday dates back to the early 2000s. Since then, many community groups have expressed their support, including The Federation of Hindu Mandirs and the Indian Diaspora Council.