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Hindus seek Diwali holiday in New Jersey’s Glen Rock schools

Hindus are asking New Jersey’s Glen Rock Public School District to include Diwali, the most popular Hindu holy day, as a school holiday in its 2015-2016 schools calendar, in view of their substantial population in the District.

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 while schools in the district were closed on some other religious holidays.

Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, argued 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 Glen Rock pupils well-nurtured, well-balanced, and enlightened citizens of tomorrow. It would make the District look good also besides bringing cohesion and unity in the community.

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, which falls on November 11 in 2015. 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.

Mission statement of Glen Rock Public Schools, which serves about 2,300 students, includes “to foster productive and responsible citizens of the globally connected society”. Sheldon Hirschberg and Robin Rubinstein are President and Vice President respectively of its Board of Education, while Dr. Paula Valenti is Superintendent of Schools.

Borough of Glen Rock, with its beautiful tree lined streets about 22 miles west of New York City, was formed in 1894. Over nine per cent of its population is Asian and prominent people associated with it include actors Valerie Harper and Charlie Tahan. John van Keuren, Michael O’Hagan and Lenora Benjamin are Mayor, Council President and Borough Administrator respectively.

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