Hindu Americans Disappointed by NYC’s Exclusion of Diwali from Public School Holidays

New York, NY (March 4, 2015) - Leaders at the Hindu American Foundation (HAF) expressed deep disappointment with New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s decision to exclude Diwali from the 2015-16 public school calendars. Earlier today, the Mayor announced that the new public school calendar will include two Muslim holidays, Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha, but will not include the proposed holidays of Diwali and the Chinese New Year.

“While the addition of two Muslim holidays is commendable, the Mayor’s decision to exclude Diwali, a festival that is celebrated by thousands of Hindu, Jain, and Sikhs in NYC is beyond disappointing,” said Sheetal Shah, HAF’s NYC-based Senior Director. “These communities are a vibrant and integral part of this city and deserve to be able to celebrate their festivals. In excluding Diwali, the Mayor is falling short on his responsibility to equally represent all New Yorkers.”

Last year, HAF joined hands with a broad-based Diwali Coalition of almost 40 organizations and NYC temples that urged the Mayor to include Diwali alongside two proposed Muslim holidays and Lunar New Year. Organizations forming the Diwali Coalition range the full spectrum, from faith-based national groups such as the International Jain Mission and United Sikhs to local faith-based organizations like Judson Memorial Church to interfaith organizations such as the Interfaith Center of New York.

"We are truly disappointed by the Mayor's exclusion of Diwali as a public school holiday," said Dr. Uma Mysorekar, President of the Ganesh Temple in Flushing, Queens. "Diwali is widely celebrated in this city and is an important time for families to be together. Our students should not have to worry about missing school work or exams in order to practice their faith."