New York State Assembly To Pass Legislation On Observing Diwali As Federal Holidays
The New York State Assembly intends to pass a legislation to observe Diwali and the Lunar New Year as federal holidays
The New York State Assembly intends to pass legislation to observe Diwali and the Lunar New Year as federal holidays, bringing to fruition yearslong efforts by lawmakers and members of the diaspora to make 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 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, which includes 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.
"I am thrilled to learn that the Assembly will vote on the legislation that seeks to observe Lunar New Year and Diwali as holidays in New York State. I was proud to champion these issues when I served in the State Legislature, where I led the bill for the Lunar New Year. I worked to make Lunar New Year a school holiday in New York City, and I have long called for the same to be done for Diwali," she said.
Meng added that holidays should "recognise and reflect the great diversity of our communities, and I look forward to these bills moving through the State Assembly".