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HindustanTimes Sat,20 Sep 2014

No decision on declaring Diwali school holiday: NYC Mayor

PTI  New York, February 06, 2014
First Published: 13:02 IST(6/2/2014) | Last Updated: 13:10 IST(6/2/2014)

The City of New York is still undecided on declaring school holidays for Diwali festival, a longstanding demand of the Indian community, the largest South Asian group in New York.

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However, for Eid and the Chinese New Year, the city's Mayor said, the "goal is to get there".

"Have not spoken about Diwali yet. On the other two (festivals), goal is to get there (declare school holidays)," Mayor Bill de Blasio said.

"It will take time. It is complicated in terms of logistics and school calendar and budget. But it is something I want to get done in a reasonable time frame," de Blasio said.

Appearing on a local radio show, the Mayor was asked if he would make the Lunar New Year, Eid (both Eid Al-Fitr and Eid Al-Adha) and Diwali school holidays.

Indians are the largest South Asian group here, comprising 2.4 per cent of the city's population of more than 8 million people.

The New York City metropolitan area is home to nearly 600,000 Indian-Americans, with a majority of residents concentrated in Queens neighbourhoods such as Jackson Heights, Flushing, Glen Oaks, Floral Park, Bellerose, Jamaica, Kew Gardens, and Elmhurst.

The ethnic community has long been demanding that the city's schools should be closed on Diwali.

A representative of the Association of Indians in America, Shashi Shah told the New York Daily News that the community is disappointed that Diwali is not a school holiday in the city.

Shah appealed to the Mayor to recognise the Hindu holiday, saying "we are disappointed. We have been trying for a long time... It's very important for the community."  Former Mayor Michael Bloomberg too had opposed a school holiday on Diwali saying kids should not miss more school.


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