New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio honored Waris Ahluwalia at a special reception at his official residence Gracie Mansion to celebrate the Diwali festival. October 19, 2016 was declared as ‘Waris Ahluwalia Day’ in the name of Sikh-Actor and Designer in the city of New York. This was in recognition of his “powerful” message of countering ignorance, and advocating for religious understanding and tolerance.
While admiring Ahluwalia’s talents of being an actor, model, writer and designer in the gathering of over 300-400 Indian-Americans and other people from the south Asian community, de Blasio said, “as a Sikh, Ahluwalia proudly wear his Dastar (turban) wherever he goes and so he sends a powerful message to our city to our country of countering ignorance, celebrating inclusion and advocating for religious understanding and tolerance in everything he does.” He extended special greetings to his “Sikh brother and sister” and marked than an attack on any community and individual because of their faith is an “attack on all of us.” He said, “We believe that when any community is attacked, any individual is attacked because of who they are, because of their faith, because of where they come from, the attack on one is an attack on all of us.”
The Mayor also mentioned that whenever any community is affronted, the New York Police Department is present to protect that community. “Whenever there is a hate crime, we will call it a hate crime and act on it as a hate crime, protect the people and say it is unacceptable in the city of New York to act in any bias fashion against any people of the city,” he says.
Ahluwalia thanked the Mayor for the “incredible honor” and said that while Diwali has been celebrated for centuries, this year its message of triumph of good over evil is “more important and relevant than ever.”
The Mayor and his wife Chirlane McCray began the reception by lighting the traditional lamp. The city’s First Lady was dressed in traditional Indian attire of a yellow salwar kurta. Amid loud cheers and applause, the Mayor said a special Diwali guide will be distributed to New York teachers through the Department of Education to support them educate students in the city about the “meaning” of the Indian festival of lights.