Hindus want five more added to New Jersey schools’ religious holidays list

Hindus have urged New Jersey State Board of Education (NJSBE) to add five more Hindu festivals to its “List of Religious Holidays Permitting Student Absence from School”.

Distinguished Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada (USA) today, said that Hinduism was rich in festivals and festivals were very dear to Hindu families. Since families want to celebrate these festivals together along with their school going children, we did not want our children to be deprived of any privileges at the school because of thus resulting absences on these days.

Rajan Zed, who is president of Universal Society of Hinduism, listed the festivals to be added to this list of religious holidays as: Naga Panchami, Guru Purnima, Goverdhan Puja, Pongal and Onam.

NJSBE included following Hindu days in its “List of Religious Holidays Permitting Student Absence from School” for the 2014-2015 school year: Raksha Bandhan, Krishna Janmashtami, Ganesha Chaturthi, Navaratri, Duserra, Diwali, Makar Sankranti, Vasant Panchami, Maha Shivaratri, Holi, Chandramana Yugadi, Ram Navami, Hanuman Jayanti and Souramana Yugadi.

This List contains total 107 religious holidays during 2014-2015 belonging to various religions/denominations, and some holidays are as long as nine days.

According to the Board resolution: “Any student absent from school because of a religious holiday may not be deprived of any award or of eligibility or opportunity to compete for any award because of such absence;” and “Students who miss a test or examination because of absence on a religious holiday must be given the right to take an alternate test or examination;” and the absence be recorded as an “excused absence”.

The NJSBE, which meets monthly in Trenton, “adopts the administrative code, which sets the rules needed to implement state education law”. Such rules cover the supervision and governance of the state’s 2,500 public schools, which serve 1.38 million students. Mark W. Biedron, Joseph Fisicaro and Diane Shoener are President, Vice President and Director respectively of NJSBE.

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