New York, May 25
The New York State Assembly intends to pass a legislation to observe Diwali and the Lunar New Year as federal holidays, bringing to fruition years-long efforts by lawmakers and members of the diaspora in making festivals formal holidays in the state.
Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie said in a statement on Wednesday that it is important to recognise New York's rich and diverse culture.
“Therefore, it is the intention of the Assembly to pass a legislation to observe Lunar New Year and Diwali as holidays in New York State before the close of our legislative session. We will continue discussions with stakeholders as to how this affects the school year calendar,” he said.
Action on the bills is expected to be taken by June 8, when the legislative session concludes.
Congresswoman Grace Meng, representing New York's 6th Congressional District - parts of West, Central and Northeast Queens, and First Vice Chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, will on Friday announce the legislation that would make Diwali a federal holiday.
Under the Congresswoman's Diwali Day Act, Diwali would become the 12th federally recognised holiday in the United States, a statement from her office said.
“Establishing a federal holiday for Diwali, and the day off it would allow families and friends to celebrate together, and demonstrate that the government values the diverse cultural makeup of the nation,” it added.
Joining Meng for the announcement will be Assemblywoman Jenifer Rajkumar and State Senator Joe Addabbo, sponsors of the New York State bill that seeks to allow the designation of Diwali as a school holiday in New York City; Councilman Shekar Krishnan, the first Indian- American member of the New York City Council; and Councilwoman Linda Lee who recently passed a resolution in the City Council supporting a New York City school holiday for Diwali.
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