Welcoming Jericho School District (JSD) in New York declaring holiday on November seven for Diwali, Hindus are urging all public school districts and private-charter-independent schools in New York State to close on their most popular festival Diwali.
Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada today, said that holiday on Diwali in New York schools would be a step in the positive direction in view of presence of a substantial number of Hindu students at many schools around the state, as it was important to meet the religious and spiritual needs of Hindu pupils.
Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, indicated that since it was important for Hindu families to celebrate Diwali day together at home with their children; closing schools on Diwali would ensure that and would also display how respectful and accommodating New York schools were to their faith.
If schools had declared other religious holidays, why not Diwali, Rajan Zed asked. Holidays of all major religions should be honored and no one should be penalized for practicing their religion, Zed added.
Zed suggested that all New York schools, public-private-charter-independent, to seriously look into declaring Diwali as an official holiday, thus recognizing the intersection of spirituality and education. Zed noted that awareness about other religions thus created by such holidays like Diwali would make New York students well-nurtured, well-balanced, and enlightened citizens of tomorrow.
Rajan Zed urged New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, New York State Education Department Board of Regents Chancellor Betty A. Rosa and New York State Commissioner of Education MaryEllen Elia; to work towards adding Diwali as an official holiday in all the 733 public school districts, and persuading the private-charter-independent schools to follow.
Zed further says that Hinduism is rich in festivals and religious festivals are very dear and sacred to Hindus. Diwali, the festival of lights, aims at dispelling the darkness and lighting up the lives and symbolizes the victory of good over evil.
For 2017 in New York State, six school districts declared holiday for students on October 19, which included: East Meadow School District, East Williston Union Free School District, Half Hollow Hills Central School District, Herricks Union Free School District, Hicksville Union Free School District and Syosset Central School District. Mineola Union Free School District announced that no home work or examinations would be given on Diwali, reports suggest.
Hinduism is oldest and third largest religion of the world with about 1.1 billion adherents and moksh (liberation) is its ultimate goal. There are about three million Hindus in USA.
JSD Board of Education unanimously adopted revised 2018-2019 calendar on a motion moved by Vice President Jill Citron, which included Diwali holiday on November seven. William Ferro and Henry L. Grishman are Board President and Superintendent respectively of JSD, whose tagline is “Success for Every Student” and which dedicates itself to “creating a strong sense of social responsibility”.