Hindus have welcomed reports of Glen Rock Public Schools in New Jersey adding Diwali, most popular of their festival, as a holiday on the school calendar.
Distinguished Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada today, describing it as a step in the right direction, urged all other public school districts and private schools in New Jersey to do the same.
Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, pointed out that it would be a positive thing to do in view of presence of a substantial number of Hindu students at schools around the state, as it was important to meet the religious and spiritual needs of these students.
Rajan Zed 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, Zed asked. Holidays of all major religions should be honored and no one should be penalized for practicing their religion, Zed added
Rajan Zed urged all New Jersey schools, both public and private, to seriously look into declaring Diwali as a holiday, recognizing the intersection of spirituality and education. Zed noted that awareness about other religions thus created by such holidays like Diwali would make New Jersey 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. Besides Hindus, Sikhs and Jains and some Buddhists also celebrate Diwali, which falls on November 11 in 2015.
Rajan Zed thanked Glen Rock Board of Education President Rona McNabola and other Board members for supporting Diwali holiday. Mission of Glen Rock Public Schools includes fostering “productive and responsible citizens of the globally connected society” and Dr. Paula Valenti is Superintendent.
Hinduism is oldest and third largest religion of the world with about one billion adherents and moksh (liberation) is its ultimate goal. There are about three million Hindus in USA.