The Welsh Government, whose tagline is “working for a fairer and more prosperous Wales”, has been urged to be fair to minority religions.
Distinguished Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada (USA) today, said that while Hindus had not been granted the requested one-day school holiday on their most popular festival Diwali, Welsh schools would be closing for 20-21 school-days around two religious festivals of the majority religion, according to Welsh Government “School term dates 2017/18”.
Responding to Zed’s email to Welsh Cabinet Secretary for Education Kirsty Williams requesting “Diwali holiday in all Wales schools”, Emyr Foxhall of Support for Learners Division wrote: “…it is important that attendance remains a priority for schools. Children must attend school at every possible opportunity to reduce any adverse impact on their education…”.
Foxhall’s email also states: “The Welsh Government fully recognises the importance of faith and religion in the personal growth and development of young people…”. But practically this “recognition” seemed to be focused on the religion/faith of the majority, Rajan Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, indicated.
Zed urged Welsh First Minister Carwyn Jones and Kirsty Williams to work towards adding Diwali as an official holiday in all the state schools of Wales which falls on October 19 this year (and persuading the independent/private schools to follow), if they were serious about the welfare of “all Welsh people” and not just the majority.
Like all pupils, it was important to meet the religious and spiritual needs of Hindu pupils also and show respect to their faith by closing schools on Diwali. Holidays of all major religions should be honored and no one should be penalized for practicing their religion, Rajan Zed pointed out.
As existence of different religions was considered to be favorably willed by God,
Welsh Government should also learn to treat them with equality and fairness, Zed stated.
Rajan Zed noted that awareness about other religions thus created by such holidays like Diwali would make Welsh students well-nurtured, well-balanced, and enlightened citizens of tomorrow.
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.
Hinduism is oldest and third largest religion of the world with about 1.1 billion adherents and moksh (liberation) is its ultimate goal.