NYC Hindus brace for conflict with Mayor’s office

NYC Hindus Erupt With Suspicion At Mayor’s Office

It was only last Thursday that the NYC Hindu Coalition believed it had come to a successful resolution to the ongoing NYC Hindu Holidays issue.  NYC Hindus had launched a campaign in the spring of 2015 for the inclusion of the Hindu Holidays of Diwali and Holi into the NYC public school calendar; this request was made after the Mayor’s office included the two Muslim holidays of Eid. The campaign began with a demonstration outside City Hall and included previous meetings with the Mayor’s Community Affairs Unit, demonstrations outside the White House, the distribution of literature at both the Mayor and Comptroller’s Diwali events and the gathering of hundreds if not thousands of email supporters. 

NYC Hindus Feel Duped And Discriminated 

Because the community did not notice any recognizable response from the Mayor’s Office in response to their campaigns, a 2nd protest was scheduled to take place outside City Hall on August 25th.  However, the NYC Hindu Coalition voluntarily contacted the Mayor’s Community Affairs Unit in an attempt to meet and negotiate prior to the protest.  At a meeting with the Mayor’s Office last Thursday, Aug 17th, the NYC Hindu Coalition offered many concession in return for further engagement with the administration.  Rather than asking for the holidays of Diwali and Holi off, the Coalition asked to be involved in expanding the Hindu curriculum in NYC schools; this would avoid having to extend the school year by two days and thus bypassed years of legislation and perhaps resentment from other communities.  The NYC Hindu Coalition even canceled the protest as a good will gesture. The Coalition was under the impression that the Mayor’s Office had agreed to email them some form of response that Friday and hopefully set up a meeting with Coalition leaders on Friday Aug 25th

Community Efforts Accelerate

However, since the Thursday meeting the Mayor’s Office has not responded to any emails or phone calls, knowing the community was expected at least some sort of communication and had requested a meeting this Friday.  The community has since gone into a sort of panic mode; the campaign is now two years old and much more organized and popular, and so many non-profits had made plans to move forward with presenting education reform suggestions at a possible Friday meeting. However, now that communication has been lost with the Mayor’s Office, they have dropped all their other efforts to focus on getting a resolution to this looming crisis.  This situation has been made tense by the fact that back in 2015 at an initial meeting with the Mayor’s Community Affairs Unit, the community was told it was not possible to add any further holidays to the school calendar; however less than two months later the Mayor’s Office announced it would be adding Chinese New Year.  Many NYC Hindus felt they had been misled by the administration, and now even more are convinced that the Mayor’s Office has duped them into calling off their protest in return form nothing. 
New Coalition Initiatives 
Nisha Ramracha, an NYC Hindu Coalition leader, is also an executive member of the Washington DC based American Hindu Coalition.  Earlier this summer Nisha met with the Ambassador of Trinidad to gain his support in upcoming Hindu Holiday campaigns. The Ambassador agreed to work with the American Hindu Coalition and Nisha to relaunch the Embassy’s Diwali party and encourage USA city, state and federal lawmakers to expand Hindu education and awareness programs.  Nisha will not only contact the Ambassador for his support on this issue, but she will also lead the effort for NYC Hindus to contact all the Embassies and Consulates of the 8 or more countries which celebrate Diwali as an official state holiday.  Additionally, Coalition members who come from dual heritage families such as Hindu-Sikh and Hindu-Buddhist will be launching the NYC Hindu-Sikh-Buddhist-Jain Coalition and will work with these groups to unite for better interaction between the Mayor’s Office and the Dharmic communities. 
Reaching Out For Support
The NYC Hindu Coalition has not yet lost hope in dialogue and we have reached out to the two most powerful Federal Hindu groups on this issue, the Hindu American Foundation which tracks global Hindu Human Rights Issues, and the American Hindu Coalition, a sister organization which focuses on international relations and defense.  The Coalition has requested that these two organizations help moderate this conflict and guide it through proper channels to resolution.  The NYC Hindu Coalition will also be launching an investigation into how to mediate such conflicts directly with the city.  We are dedicated to doing everything we can to make this work for everyone. 
NYC Hindu Coalition, Non-Profit
 Formerly “NYC Hindu Holidays Campaign”
A collection of NYC Hindu Non-Profits working with NYC officials and lawmakers for better engagement between the NYC Hindu community and the City administration.
Project Managed By: Vincent Bruno, Vijay Kumar, Avijit Roy, Pinaki Das, Abhishek Bhaskar & Sivaramakrishnan Nagarajan
Coalition Leaders: Nisha Ramracha, Sitangshu Guha, Adity Sharma
Coalition Non-Profit Participants: Federation of Hindu Mandirs, Hindu Learning Foundation, Indian American Intellectuals Forum, Hindu Students Association International, Justice For Hindus, Bangladeshi Hindu Buddhist Christian Unity Council; VidyaDham Panchatatva Gitapith; Vedic American Foundation Inc.; Jamaica Hindu Community
Source: World Hindu News (WHN)