Hindus are urging The School District of Philadelphia (SDP) in Pennsylvania to include Diwali, the most popular Hindu holy day, as a school holiday in their 2017-2018 school calendar and beyond.
The 2016-2017 Academic Calendar of SDP showed that administrative offices and schools were closed on three religious holidays.
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 had to attend school on their most popular festival.
Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, indicated that this unfairness did not send a good signal to the impressionable minds of schoolchildren who would be the leaders of tomorrow. Holidays of all major religions should be honored and no one should be penalized for practicing their religion. Moreover, it was important to meet the religious and spiritual needs of these students, Zed added
Rajan 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.
Zed noted that awareness about other religions thus created by such holidays like Diwali would make the SDP pupils well-nurtured, well-balanced, and enlightened citizens of tomorrow.
SDP needed to develop some sensitivity to diversity in the changing demographics and grant holidays on Diwali and major festivals of other religions so the students did not have to miss school to celebrate their sacred days. SDP should awake and understand that we live in 2016 now, Rajan Zed stated.
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 October 19 in 2017.
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.
SDP is the eighth largest school district in the nation, with 218 schools and 134,538 students, including 10,594 Asian. Dr. William R. Hite, Jr., is the Superintendent while Marjorie G. Neff is Chair of School Reform Commission.