Hindus are urging all public school districts and private-charter-independent schools in Virginia to close on Diwali, most popular of their festival, which falls on October 19 this year.
Many public school districts in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania have already reportedly declared day-off for students on October 19.
Distinguished Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada today, said it if would be a step in the positive direction, 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 schools should make efforts to accommodate the religious requirements of Hindu students and show respect to their faith by not conducting regular business and scheduling classes on Diwali. We did not want our students to be put at an unnecessary disadvantage for missing tests/examinations/papers, assignments, class work, etc., by taking a day-off to observe Diwali.
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 all Virginia 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 Virginia students well-nurtured, well-balanced, and enlightened citizens of tomorrow.
Rajan Zed urged Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe, Superintendent of Public Instruction Steven R. Staples and Board of Education President Dr. Billy K. Cannaday Junior; to work towards adding Diwali as an official holiday in all the state's public schools, 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. Besides Hindus; Sikhs and Jains and some Buddhists also celebrate Diwali.
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.