Hindus are urging Chelmsford Public Schools (CPS) in Massachusetts to include Diwali, the most popular Hindu holy day, as a school holiday in their 2016-2017 school calendar and beyond.
The 2015-2016 Academic Calendar of CPS, whose “mission” includes to cultivate “well-rounded lifelong learners”, showed Good Friday as a holiday.
Distinguished Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada today, said that it was not fair with Hindu pupils and their families as they had to attend school on their most popular festival.
Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, indicated that this unfairness did not send a good signal to the impressionable minds of schoolchildren who would be the leaders of tomorrow. Holidays of all major religions should be honored and no one should be penalized for practicing their religion. Moreover, it was important to meet the religious and spiritual needs of these students, Zed added
Rajan Zed stressed that since it was important for Hindu families to celebrate Diwali day together at home with their children, we did not want our children to be deprived of any privileges at the school because of thus resulting absences on this day. Closing schools on Diwali would ensure that and it would be a step in the right direction.
Zed noted that awareness about other religions thus created by such holidays like Diwali would make the CPS pupils well-nurtured, well-balanced, and enlightened citizens of tomorrow.
CPS needed to develop some sensitivity to diversity in the changing demographics and grant holidays on Diwali and major festivals of other religions so the students did not have to miss school to celebrate their sacred days. CPS should awake and understand that we live in 2016 now, Zed stated.
Rajan 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. Besides Hindus, Sikhs and Jains and some Buddhists also celebrate Diwali. Hinduism, oldest and third largest religion of the world, has about one billion adherents and moksh (liberation) is its ultimate goal. There are about three million Hindus in USA.
CPS has over 5,000 students, including over 12% Asian. Its Chelmsford High School was included on Newsweek’s 2015 list of the Top Public High Schools in the country. Dr. Jay Lang is CPS’s Superintendent of Schools, while Al Thomas is Chairman of Chelmsford School Committee.