Hindus want all public schools in Oak Brook (Illinois) to stay closed on Diwali; the most popular of their festivals; starting 2021.
They are thus urging Christopher Edmonds and Dr. Paul O’Malley, Board President and Superintendent respectively of Butler School District (BSD) 53 in Oak Brook, to adopt Diwali as an official holiday on their 2021-2022 school year calendars and beyond.
Distinguished Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada today, pointed out that it would be a step in the positive direction in view of presence of a substantial number of Hindu students in Oak Brook; as it was important to meet the religious and spiritual needs of these pupils. Some school districts in various US states had reportedly already declared Diwali as a holiday.
Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, 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.
Rajan Zed suggested BSD to seriously look into declaring Diwali as an official holiday, thus recognizing the intersection of spirituality and education. Zed noted that awareness about other religions thus created by such holidays like Diwali would make Oak Brook 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. Diwali falls on Thursday, November four, in 2021.
Hinduism is oldest and third largest religion of the world with about 1.1 billion adherents and moksh (liberation) is its ultimate goal. There are about three million Hindus in USA.
Awards-winning BSD, whose history goes back to early 1900s, claims to be “known for its high achievement and top test scores”. “Our students consistently rank among the highest in the state on tests and earn top ranking on academic teams”, it adds.