Hindu community is heartbroken over Paramus Public Schools in New Jersey not planning to include Diwali as a school holiday in its 2016-2017 school calendar despite their longstanding wish and substantial population.
Distinguished Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada 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 Paramus were closed on some other religious holidays.
Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, noted that this unfairness did not send a good signal to the impressionable minds of schoolchildren who would be the leaders of tomorrow.
Calendar Advisory Committee Report, submitted on December 14 to Paramus Board of Education, although admitted that “the demographic population in Paramus is becoming increasingly diverse”, but determined not to close schools on Diwali in the 2016-17 school year. Anthony Balestrieri was the Chairman of this Committee charged with “examining the framework for considering when it is appropriate to close schools for religious holidays”.
Since the final approval of 2016-17 calendar was still due, Rajan Zed urged the Board to seriously relook into the issue considering adding Diwali as a schools holiday.
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 positive direction.
Rajan Zed indicated that awareness about other religions thus created by such holidays like Diwali would make the Paramus 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.
According to Zed, 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, 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.
Paramus Public Schools, whose mission includes to “develop all students as open-minded”, has eight schools. Dr. Michele Robinson is Superintendent of Schools, while Sharon L. Bower is Board President. In School Calendar 2015-2016, schools were closed on three religious days belonging to one religion.