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Hindu dharma is implicitly at odds with monotheistic intolerance. What is happening in India is a new historical awakening... Indian intellectuals, who want to be secure in their liberal beliefs, may not understand what is going on. But every other Indian knows precisely what is happening: deep down he knows that a larger response is emerging even if at times this response appears in his eyes to be threatening.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Council committee defies city on Hindu holiday vote

New York City - Manhattan news

BY BRYAN VIRASAMI
STAFF WRITER

September 21, 2005

Despite opposition from the Bloomberg administration, a City Council committee Tuesday voted unanimously to approve legislation adding Diwali to the list of holidays that alternate-side-of-the-street parking rules would be suspended.

The full council will vote later this month on whether to suspend the parking rules for street cleaning for the popular Hindu holiday.

Bernard Sullivan, chief of cleaning at the Sanitation Department, said in prepared remarks to the City Council Transportation Committee that there are already 39 days when they can't sweep the curbs.

Adding to it would "greatly impact community cleanliness," he said. Sullivan also said the department has opposed similar proposals for other holidays in the past.

Councilman John Liu (D-Flushing), chairman of the committee, didn't buy the argument.

"It's a question of fairness. There's a very substantial portion of New Yorkers who hold this holiday in high reverence," Liu said.

Some Hindus and community leaders say that Diwali, one of India's major religious holidays, which is observed by Hindus around the world, deserves the honor.

Tara Singh, a community activist and spokesman for the Bhuvaneshwar Mandir of Queens in Ozone Park, said the administration's opposition to the holiday is akin to a slap on the face.

"Most people go to church on that day and they need to park and parking is a problem in the city," Singh said. "It's a question of equal protection under the Constitutition. Some groups get it, and why can't we get it?"

Thousands of Hindus in the city, most of whom emigrated from India, Guyana or Trinidad, observe the holiday, which goes back thousands of years.

The holiday, also called the Festival of Lights, originates from a historical religious story symbolic of the triumph of good over evil, Singh said.

In observance, families get together and share food and light up pathways, windows and other sections of their homes.

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