Washington: Recognising the growing influence of the Indian community in the US, six top American lawmakers on Thursday asked the New York City schools to include Diwali in the list of public holidays.
Led by Congressman Joe Crowley, co-chair of the Congressional Caucus on India and Indian Americans, the lawmakers in a letter to the New York City Schools Chancellor Carmen Farina urge the Department of Education to include the festival of Diwali on the list of new public school holidays.
Congressmen Charles B Rangel, Grace Meng, Gregory W Meeks, Yvette D Clarke, and Carolyn B Maloney are other signatories to the letter.
"We appreciate your consideration of school holidays that reflect our diverse city and ensure that students aren`t forced to choose between attending school and observing important holidays with their families," the lawmakers said.
"For nearly a decade, Diwali has been gaining increased recognition throughout the United States. In fact, this year the Congressional Caucus on India and Indian-Americans celebrated the first-ever Congressional Diwali, and the White House has recognised the festival under successive administrations," the letter said.
"In New York City, Diwali is celebrated by countless residents, including Hindus, Jains and Sikhs," it said.
The majority of New York`s Indian-Americans, which include not only those of direct South Asian origin but also those of Indian-Caribbean heritage, consider Diwali amongst their most significant holidays, the letter said.
"Further, New York City is home to several dozen temples and gurdwaras, some of which are among the largest in our nation. The numerous Diwali celebrations in the city, such as the popular South Street Seaport event, is a testament to the recognition and popularity of Diwali, attracting thousands from in and around the area," the Congressmen wrote.
Crowley led his colleagues in creating the first-ever Congressional Diwali celebration in October 2013.