Mayor Adams hosted the annual Diwali celebrations at his New York residence, Gracie Mansion, on Tuesday.
Diwali Greetings: New York City Mayor Eric Adams, while extending greetings ahead of the Hindu festival Deepawali said “Diwali is a reminder for all to push away darkness and usher in light”. NYC Mayor Adams called on people to embrace the spirit of “Lord Ram, Goddess Sita, and Mahatma Gandhi and be better human beings”. Mayor Adams hosted the annual Diwali celebrations at his New York residence, Gracie Mansion, on Tuesday where he asked people to embrace the endeavour to remove the “darkness engulfing the world, which is witnessing the loss of innocent lives”.
“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,” Adams said.
The annual celebration was attended by hundreds of prominent members of the Indian-American and South Asian community as well as diaspora from other nationalities and government officials. Mayor Adams said that Diwali is more than lighting a candle or oil but about “lighting up our lives”.
“There is so much darkness that we are seeing every day. So if we truly believe in the life of Ramayana, if we truly believe in the life of Sita, if we truly believe in the life of Gandhi, then we must continue Gandhi’s steps. We cannot only be worshippers; we must be practitioners,” he said.
Adams said that at a time when there is darkness all across the globe, and the world is witnessing the loss of innocent lives, “we cannot continue to watch this engulf our future and engulf humanity.”
“Let’s be better human beings. Let’s live in the spirit of Diwali. Let’s live in the spirit of Gandhi. Let’s live in the spirit of Sita. Let’s live in the spirit of Ram, and then we will live up to the expectations of what this holiday really means,” he said.
Jenifer Rajkumar, the New York State Assemblywoman who led efforts to make Diwali a school holiday in New York City, said that the Indian-American community has never been as powerful as it is now.
“We are unstoppable, and we have arrived at the table of power in this state,” she said adding that with everything going on in the world, in the Middle East where there is terrible violence, and amid the hatred and bigotry against different groups, “we are the ones that can lead the way to peace. “Ours is the culture of Martin Luther King Jr, who was famously inspired by Gandhi.”
“We feel equally at home in a synagogue, in a mosque, in a church because as Hindus, we don’t just tolerate people that are different from us, we go one step further and actively love people that are different from us,” she said.
“So now it’s time to spread our beautiful Dharmic light across the city, the nation, the Middle East and the entire world,” she added.
Adams said that Lord Ram was the power and force against evil, and he pushed to rid the entire globe of darkness. He added that another significant part of the story of Ramayana is Goddess Sita, a woman of strength and integrity.
“So as we move forward in a particularly male-dominated society, let’s not forget that we will never be able to defeat darkness if we do not acknowledge all the Sitas that are in the universe fighting on behalf and side by side with us,” he said.
Mayor Adams also recalled his trip to India, his visit to the home of Gandhi, and seeing the Mahatma’s steps permanently etched there.
“It is symbolic that a bullet took his life, but it is up to us to continue the journey,” Adams said.
(With PTI inputs)