New York City, NY
Mayor Eric Adams of the City of New York welcomed over 1, 044 attendees to a vibrant reception in honor of Diwali at Gracie Mansion on October 17th 2023. This auspicious occasion was an opportunity for diverse communities to come together and celebrate the Festival of Lights, an important festival in the Indian culture.
Diwali, also known as the Festival of Lights, is one of the most widely celebrated festivals in Indian culture. It symbolizes the victory of light over darkness and good over evil. Diwali is a time for families and communities to come together, exchange gifts, and enjoy feasts while celebrating the triumph of light and knowledge.
Mayor Eric Adams emphasized the importance of celebrating diversity and fostering a sense of belonging in the City of New York, stating, “Diwali is a time of joy, illumination, and unity. It is a celebration that brings people from different backgrounds together to embrace cultural diversity and strengthen our community. We are honored to host this event and share the spirit of Diwali with New Yorkers.”
“And Diwali is more than just a holiday. It is a reminder to all of us that we must push away the darkness wherever we see it and bring light. That is what the festival of lights is about. It’s more than lighting the candle, it’s more than lighting oil. It is lighting up our lives. Add there is so much darkness that we are seeing every day.”
Diwali was declared a holiday in New York recently. Mayor Adams thanked assemblywoman Jennifer Rajkumar, “who has been a real partner in moving this important holidays to the forefront. But I also want to thank my partners who are here in government as well. Assemblymember Grace Lee, Councilperson Brewer, a long‑time friend, and former borough president. Councilman Krishnan, Councilmember Lee, and all of our state and assembly lawmakers who assisted, particularly Assemblymember and Speaker Carl Heastie and Majority Leader Andrea Stewart‑Cousins for getting this bill through and making this holiday happen.”
Jennifer Rajkumar echoed the sentiments, “It was the question that every South Asian and Indo-Caribbean has been asking for over three decades: when will Diwali be a school holiday? When will it be seen and heard and recognized as part of the gorgeous mosaic that is New York City? So, on Diwali, Lord Ram and Sita return victorious to the city of Ayodhya, and they were victorious. And today, we are victorious. This is what victory feels like. This is what victory looks like. And ladies and gentlemen, our community has never been as powerful as it is right now. We are unstoppable, and we have arrived at the table of power in this state. “
Deputy Commissioner Dilip Chauhan, Trade, Investment and Innovation, Mayor’s Office of International Affairs, said, “I would like to introduce two people who made New York City Diwali declared as a holy day in public school. We were waiting since last 20 years. You all have worked hard to recognize this celebration. Without further ado, I would like to just say two words about our Assemblymember Jenifer Rajkumar. Jenifer Rajkumar is a proud Hindu American Assemblymember from the State of New York. We all are very proud of Assemblymember Jenifer Rajkumar Now, I just mentioned a few minutes before that this mayor, when he was Brooklyn Borough president, Eric Adams gave a promise during the Diwali celebration at Brooklyn Borough Hall, when I will become the mayor, I will make sure, Dilip, your daughter doesn’t need to go to school on your celebration. “
Dr. Vasundhara Kalasapudi, was honored for her outstanding service for the community by the Mayor Adams. Also honored were the Indo‑American Arts Council Chairman Dr. Nirmal Mattoo for spreading art and culture in New York City. Dr Hari Shukla and renowned artist Ustad Kamal Sabri, and Grammy nominee Chandrika Tandon were honored too.
The highlight of the event was the presence of World Vegan Vision founded by H.K/ Malti Shah, a major coordinator and supporter, who provided plant-based vegan mithai (sweets) and savory delicacies . The conscious decision to offer vegan options was aligned with the event’s theme of promoting environmental sustainability and plant-based lifestyles.
Several Indian vendors also participated in the celebration, showcasing the richness of Indian culture and introducing attendees to various aspects of Indian cuisine. Bru Coffee ( Unilever) Market, managed by Ltfa Kaushik Vyas, Salman Ali Vaqar, Janet Tinsay , Tejash Shah , Vadilal Industry USA, managed by Ashwin Pandya and Jigar Gandhi, Govinda kitchen ( ISKCON BROOKLYN) managed by Hansrupa Prabhu & Pragnesh Prabhu, Butala Emporium managed by Kilol & Bhadra Butala, Abha Deavrajan, president Kalindi Bakshi & V.P Neetu Jindal from world vegan vision and other vendors, brought a wide range of flavors and experiences to the event.
In particular, Nitin Vyas, Public Relations Director, played a major instrumental role in facilitating the connection between Mayor’s office and the Indian vendors. His efforts helped establish a strong collaboration to ensure the seamless participation of these vendors in the Diwali celebration.
The Diwali reception at Gracie Mansion served as a platform for unity, promoting intercultural understanding and respect. The event was a true testament to the City of New York’s commitment to inclusivity, where all communities are valued and celebrated.