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NYC schools will officially close for Diwali starting 2023

The mayor declared Diwali a public school holiday in New York City beginning next year.

Anna Rahmanan
Written by
Anna Rahmanan

It's official: Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights that is usually celebrated October through November, will become a public school holiday in New York City starting 2023.

Mayor Eric Adams made the announcement during a press conference earlier this week, explaining that legislators have decided to swap out Anniversary Day, which commemorates the founding of the First Sunday School on Long Island on the first Thursday in June every year, for the "Festival of Lights" beginning the next school year calendar. As a result, the schedule will still include the 180 school days required by New York's education laws.

To be clear, Diwali is a five-day holiday that's honored on a different date yearly so students will enjoy a fluctuating day off. 

"The time has come to recognize over 200,000 New Yorkers of the Hindu, Buddhist, Sikh and Jain faiths who celebrate Diwali, the Festival of Lights," state assemblywoman Jennifer Rajkumar said alongside Adams during the press conference. "People have said that there's simply not enough room in the New York City school calendar to have a Diwali school holiday. Well, my legislation makes the room."

The politician specifically referred to Anniversary Day as an "obscure and antiquated day."

Mayor Adams also noted that schools will educate children about what the holiday is. "We're going to have them start talking about what it is to celebrate the Festival of Lights, and how do you turn a light on within yourself," he said. "When we take this period to acknowledge Diwali, we're acknowledging the light that is within us, the light that clearly can push away darkness."

A bill still needs to pass in Albany to turn the new guidelines into law, but it seems like that will happen before the 2023 school year kicks off.

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