No Diwali holiday in New York City schools, Hindus feel abandoned

Hindu community is heartbroken over New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio not declaring Diwali as a school holiday despite all out efforts by them.

Distinguished Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada (USA) today, said that it was not fair with Hindu pupils and their families as they would have to attend school on their most popular festival while schools in the district would be closed on festivals of some other communities.

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. Zed urged Mayor de Blasio to reconsider his decision and include Diwali, which fell on October 23 this year, on the holiday calendar of public schools.

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 New York City 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. Zed urged all school districts across USA to declare Diwali as school holiday.

According to Rajan Zed, Diwali, the festival of lights, aims at dispelling the darkness and lighting up the lives and symbolizes the victory of good over evil. Hindus worship goddess of good fortune and beauty Lakshmi, god of wisdom and auspiciousness Ganesh, and mountain Goverdhan on this day. Also on this day, coronation of Lord Ram was held, Lord Hanuman was born, Lord Vishnu returned kingdom to monkey king Bali of Kiskindha, Lord Vishnu and goddess Lakshmi married, Lord Krishan killed demon Narakasur, and ancient king Vikramaditya was crowned. On this day of forgiveness, festivities, and friendliness; families and friends get together for worship followed by a sumptuous and elaborate feast. It is also considered a harvest festival. 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.

The New York City Department of Education is the largest system of public schools in USA, serving about 1.1 million students in over 1,700 schools with $24 billion annual budget. Carmen Farina is Chancellor of the Department of Education.

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