Mayor Adams says NYC schools to add Diwali holiday to calendar

New York City is moving closer to swapping out Anniversary Day for Diwali on the school calendar.

Mayor Eric Adams and Schools Chancellor David Banks said Thursday they’re working with the state to give the religious holiday of Diwali off to all public school kids — and still deliver the legal requirement of at least 180 days of instruction.

Diwali will replace an old-school holiday — “Brooklyn-Queens Day” — by next school year under legislation introduced by state Assemblywoman Jenifer Rajkumar.

“It is long overdue to say to our Hindu, Sikh, Jain and Buddhist students and communities that we see you, we acknowledge you,” said Adams at a news conference at the Department of Education headquarters.

Rajkumar was beyond pleased with the pronouncement.

“On the streets, they actually call him the Hindu mayor. He does it all — the plant based diet, the meditation,” she joked.

Hizzoner and the chancellor noted the move made good on a campaign promise to sign Diwali into a holiday, as first reported by The City. Advocates last week vented their frustration to the news outlet over yet another year they’ve got to choose between school and work, or observing the holiday.

Scented candles are lit during a ceremony as Sadhus and Hindus celebrate Diwali at the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir on November 14, 2012 in London, England.
Mayor Adams announced that New York City is working with state legislators to give city students the holiday of Diwali off from school.
Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

Education officials had pointed to the 180-school-day requirement as holding up the change.

“People have said there’s simply not enough room in the New York City calendar to have a Diwali school holiday,” said Rajkumar. “Well, my legislation makes room.”

The proposal would wipe out Anniversary Day — better known to old-timers as “Brooklyn-Queens Day” — from the school calendar.

State Assemblywoman Jenifer Rajkumar wth Eric Adams
State Assemblywoman Jenifer Rajkumar introduced legislation to replace “Brooklyn-Queens Day” with Diwali on the school calendar.
NYC Mayor’s Office

Anniversary Day is celebrated on the first Thursday in June, and has reportedly been on the books since 1829, with schools observing the holiday since the mid-1900s.

This year, more than 200,000 New Yorkers of Hindu, Sikh, Jain and Buddhist faiths will celebrate Diwali on Monday.

“It’s important not only for the young people who celebrate, who honor Diwali, but it’s important for all students,” said Banks.

Women light candles
Diwali will be celebrated by 200,000 Hindu, Sikh, Jain and Buddhist New Yorkers next week.
Photo by NARINDER NANU/AFP via Getty Images
A plate of sweets from an Indian food shop in New York City for Diwali.
A plate of sweets from an Indian food shop in New York City for Diwali.
Katie Workman via AP

“The whole world lives here, and they all go to school here. And it’s important that we honor and we recognize all our young people,” he added.

The announcement joins several major changes to the school calendar in recent years, including shifting snow days from days off to remote instruction.

Other holidays added to the school calendar under former Mayor Bill de Blasio include the Lunar New Year and the Muslim holidays Eid Al-Fitr and Eid Al-Adha.

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