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Jenifer Rajkumar’s bill to make Diwali school holiday in NY

Queens: Diwali would be established as a school holiday in New York City under a legislation introduced by Assemblywoman Jenifer Rajkumar.

The holiday would be observed in school districts with significant populations that celebrate Diwali and honor the cultural heritage of hundreds of thousands of South Asian New Yorkers who celebrate the holiday, Queens media reported.

“As the first Hindu-American and South Asian-American woman elected to state office in New York, I take special pride in advocating for new American communities, including those that celebrate Diwali,” Rajkumar said. “The South Asian, Indo-Caribbean, Hindu, Sikh, Jain and Buddhist communities are a vital part of our city’s gorgeous mosaic, contributing to every sector of our society. It is long past time to honor their vibrant cultural heritage by making Diwali a school holiday, as community leaders have advocated for years. The time has come.”

“The thousands of Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist and Jain families who celebrate Diwali deserve to mark the Festival of Lights as a complete unit with their children,” Queens Borough President Donovan Richards said. “Queens is proud to join Assemblywoman Rajkumar and all our elected officials who have signed onto this piece of legislation, which must be passed and signed into law as soon as possible.”

Since the early 2000s, community and faith leaders have called for New York to recognize the holiday. The City Council issued a resolution calling on the city Department of Education to establish Diwali as a school holiday. When Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that he would approve Eid and Lunar New Year as school holidays, but not Diwali, activists formed the Diwali Coalition of NYC to push for change.

Assemblyman David Weprin said, “I am a proud co-sponsor of Assemblywoman Rajkumar’s bill which will bring a long-awaited change for the members of the Hindu, Sikh and Jain communities.”

Local groups have long advocated for this as well, including the Hindu Temple Society of North America in Queens, the National Advisory Committee for South Asian Affairs, The Sikh American Friendship Foundation and the Diwali Stamp Project.

The DC based Hindu American Foundation applauded Rajkumar for introducing the legislation.

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Bollywood Latest News

Madhuri lauds New Zealand Police dancing to Kala chashma song

Actress Madhuri Dixit shared a video of New Zealand Police officials dancing to the song Kala chashma on the occasion of Diwali.

Madhuri shared the video in a series of Instagram stories on her verified account. In the video, male and female officers of the Kiwi police force can be seen shaking a leg with the song from the 2016 film, Baar Baar Dekho, featuring Katrina Kaif and Sidharth Malhotra. The video was originally shared by Wellington Indian Association.

Sharing the video, Madhuri wrote: “This video brought a big smile to my face. Dance, art and culture bring people together in such a wonderful way.”

Madhuri Dixit recently celebrated 32 years of the release of her 1988 superhit Tezaab. To celebrate the film, Madhuri shared a video of her iconic dance number Ek do teen from the film. In the video shared by the actress on Instagram, netizens can be seen dancing with the song.

Remembering late choreographer Saroj Khan, who passed away in July this year, Madhuri wrote: “#32YearsOfTezaab A movie which is very close to my heart and a song which makes me feel alive every time I hear it. Thank you everyone for still loving the song, the choreography and creating such amazing videos on it. Miss you #Saroj ji. She would have been so happy to see this video.”

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Latest News New York

Parker Jewish Institute celebrates Diwali

New Hyde Park, NY: The Parker Jewish Institute  for Health Care and Rehabilitation based here hosted a virtual Diwali celebration for residents and their families on November 11.

The celebration featured devotional songs, music and dance. Spiritual and motivational speeches were given by Narinder Kapoor and Madhu Kumari. Devotional songs were performed by Vijay Shah, Anil Dua, and Jyoti Gupta. Dances were performed by Siddhi Vaishnav and poetry recited by Anju Sharma, Sushma Malhotra and Shalini Bansal. Diyas and tasty treats added to the festivities.

“It is always wonderful to celebrate Diwali and other important festivals,” said Michael N. Rosenblut, Parker’s President and CEO. “Our online celebration is one more way that Parker brings people together, from our residents and patients, as well as families and staff.”

Parker’s Indian Cultural Unit is the first of its kind serving East and West Indian older adults who reside in Nassau and Queens counties. It is staffed by Indian physicians and nursing staff who are fluent in Indian languages, including Bengali, Gujarati, Hindi and Punjabi.

The unit is adorned with Indian-inspired artwork and décor. Activities and entertainment include music, TV, movies, newspapers and religious services so that patients remain connected to their traditional lifestyle in a healing environment.

 

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Latest News New York

AIA-NY holds Diwali ceremony at Times Square

New York: The Association of Indians in America (AIA) – NY chapter held a Diya-lighting ceremony on November 13 in Times Square next to  Nasdaq to usher in 2020 Deepavali and to pray for the end of Covid-19 suffering.

The ceremony with a limited number of guests was headed by Consul General Randhir Jaiswal along with State Senator John Liu and Deputy Consul General Shatrughna Sinha.

Harish Thakkar, President of AIA-NY, said Deepavali on South Street Seaport is their flagship event, which is enjoyed by over 50,000 people every year. But Covid forced them to cancel the event and hold instead the Diya lighting at Times Square. He added that AIA facilitated the first celebration of Diwali in the White House in 2005.

Ambassador Randhir Jaiswal wished everyone Happy Diwali and a prosperous New Year.  He said that Diwali truly brightens our evenings as we unite to celebrate the festival to mark the triumph of good over evil, light over darkness. Diwali’s central message of openness, peace and mutual respect is one we can all learn from. He lauded AIA-NY for holding the largest celebration of the Deepavali in America for the past 32 years.

Senator John Liu, who has attended many AIA-NY Deepavali events, said this festival is the celebration of light and so, coming at a time of darkness, when there are so many sad stories of bereavement, sickness and financial hardship caused by the virus, we need to ensure that our inner light stays ignited. It’s a time to share compassion, love and care with everyone around us.

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Latest News USA

BAPS Hindu Mandir Melville, LI celebrate Diwali virtually

Amid the COVID-19 global pandemic, the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in Melville, NY focused on bringing together the Hindu community through five-days  of  virtual Diwali celebrations. During this period, the traditions celebrated present an opportunity to reflect and introspect on one’s personal, professional, and spiritual growth.

Many families would generally gather at the BAPS Mandir to celebrate this festival.  However, due to all of the health and safety concerns this year, the BAPS organization provided live, interactive programs throughout the holiday season to bring the community together while suggesting activities that each family can partake in and share with others online. One such activity was the observation of New Year’s Day which occurs the day after Diwali.  BAPS Mandirs the world over celebrate this  day by offering Annakut (meaning “Mountain of Food”) to the sacred images within the shrines of the Mandir. The 100s of food items are generally made by followers of  the faith in their homes and brought to the mandir.  This year, however, families were encouraged to make fresh vegetarian delicacies and offer them to the images that are kept at home, with the same spirit and to share pictures of this and other Diwali activities online. 

As a part of its ongoing COVID-19 response efforts, the organization’s humanitarian arm – BAPS Charities – organized a Food Drive and requested all who  came to the  Mandir to bring non-perishable food items to help those most affected by the pandemic.

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Latest News USA

Shantiniketan residents celebrate Diwali abiding to Covid-19 restrictions

Fifty residents of Shantiniketan 1 celebrated Diwali on November 14, 2020 from 5:00 P.M. to almost 7:00 P.M. All residents wished Happy Diwali to one another and enjoyed varieties of snacks and Diwali sweets. They all came out of isolation for two hours and met one another and felt very refreshed coming out of their condos where they have been confined due to COVID19. Even during the festivity, they maintained social distance and kept the masks on removing briefly during the time they enjoyed all sweets and goodies. The program was coordinated by Geeta Chandran. The president of condo owners’ association Rajeshwar Prasad wished all of them Happy Diwali and thanked all of them for abiding by the restrictions imposed due to COVID-19. 

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Business Latest News

Amid Covid, Diwali brings back gold demand

New Delhi: The auspicious occasion of ‘Dhanteras’ and Diwali in India brought some relief to the jewelry market, which has largely been subdued amid the pandemic with poor demand.

Although demand witnessed a spike on Thursday and Friday post the recent subdued trend, the sales trend across the country varied with some places witnessing year-on-year rise and some others witnessing fall in sales compared to last year.

The India Bullion and Jewellers Association (IBJA) said that the sale of gold this year on the auspicious occasion of Dhanteras has been 30 per cent more than the previous year. People bought gold worth a staggering Rs 20,000 crore during the festival in 2020, it said.

Pankaj Arora, Chairman of the Gold and Jewelry Committee of the Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT), noted that the prices of gold and silver have increased significantly this year and those who invested in gold and silver last year have gained 30 per cent and 35 per cent, respectively.

He was of the view that gold and silver sales this Dhanteras are estimated to be higher compared to last year.

Bachhraj Bamalwa, a Kolkata-based jeweller and Chairman of the All India Gems and Jewellery Trade Federation, however, said that the sales were “good but due to Covid they were slower than expected.”

Dhanteras and Diwali customers have been more interested in wearable jewelry.

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Festival Special Latest News

US lawmakers send Diwali greetings to Indian community

Washington: Many governors, Senators and elected officials  in the US greeted Indian Americans on the occasion of Diwali, with many of them joining their constituents in celebrating the festival.

Light will always overcome darkness, tweeted Gavin Newsom, Governor of California, home to the largest Indian-American population in the US. “Today, we celebrate the power of hope over despair. Happy Diwali to all those celebrating!” he said.

“Happy Diwali to all who celebrate. While celebrating will be different this year, I hope this holiday brings you light, joy and peace,” said New York Governor Andrew Cuomo.

“Happy Diwali to all those celebrating the Festival of Lights around the world and in the great State of Texas,” tweeted Governor Greg Abbott of Texas.

“On this festival of lights, may you and your families be blessed with the glow of joy and prosperity to last through the year,” said Delaware Senator Chris Coons, who could be picked for Secretary of State under a Biden administration.

“Wishing a happy Diwali to everyone celebrating the Festival of Lights in New York, across America, and around the world!” said Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer.

“Joining millions in New Jersey and around the world lighting lamps today as we celebrate #Diwali. These tiny flames illuminate the darkness and symbolize our common pursuit of light, knowledge and goodness. Sending my warmest wishes for a safe and happy holiday,” said Senator Bob Menendez.

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Festival Special Latest News

Diwali celebrated in Sacramento with ‘Quarantine Style’ car parade

Sacramento, CA: Over 100 members of the Indian community celebrated Diwali ‘Quarantine Style’ with a parade of cars decorated with lights here.

Celebrated under the auspices of Sacramento chapter of SEWA, a service organization that originated in India, the parade in Roseville on November 8 attracted many from nearby suburbs.

People dressed in traditional Indian clothes, with children and family waving, cheering, showcased their cars with decorated lights depicting the spirit of the Diwali festivity, according to a media release.

Many local Americans also joined the parade. Some taking pictures at the starting point told the organizers that the decorations and lighting were so refreshing and certainly created a positive vibe.

Despite the record extreme cold weather, people came from Sacramento suburban cities including Elk Grove, Folsom, Orangevale, Rancho, Rocklin, and Roseville, with their decorated vehicles.

Local Indian Americans spent hours decorating their cars with colorful LEDs for The Diwali Car Parade.

On this occasion, Sewa received more than 50 pounds of canned food donations through this Diwali food drive and donated the food collected to the local food bank.

Sewa thanked local business Reliance Supermart for providing sweets to all the parade participants.

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