Hindus are disappointed as Australian Capital Territory (ACT) does not seem to be receptive to the idea of public holiday on Diwali, the most popular Hindu festival.
ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr, responding to the request of distinguished Hindu statesman Rajan Zed for public holiday on Diwali, wrote: As additional public holidays in the ACT would be observed by all ACT workers, it is important they have a whole of community significance. Given this, the Diwali festival would not be amenable for consideration as an additional public holiday.
Public holidays to be observed in ACT during 2021 include Good Friday, Easter, Christmas, Boxing Day, etc.
Reacting to this, Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, stated that it was sad that ACT Government was not willing to consider designating Diwali as a public holiday. It was not fair with ACT Hindu community as they had to be at work/school on their most popular festival while there were public holidays on other religious days.
Rajan Zed emphasized that it was important for Hindu families to celebrate Diwali day together at home/temple. Public holiday on Diwali would ensure that and it would be “a step in the positive direction”.
Zed suggested that ACT Government should revisit its public holiday policies and form exploratory committee to seriously examine this issue of fairness. Hard-working, harmonious and peaceful Hindu community had made lot of contributions to ACT and society in general; and continued to do so.
Rajan Zed noted that awareness about other religions thus created by such holidays like Diwali would strengthen cohesion and unity in the overall ACT citizenry and make them well-nurtured and enlightened citizens.
As an interfaith gesture; Zed urged Roman Catholic Archbishop Christopher Prowse and Anglican Diocesan Bishop Mark Short to come out in the support of Hindu brothers and sisters for Diwali holiday.
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.
Hinduism, oldest and third largest religion of the world, has about 1.2 billion adherents and moksh (liberation) is its ultimate goal.