Hindus have welcomed option of including Diwali holiday (November four, 2021) in the 2021-2022 school calendar of Prince William County Public Schools (PWCS) in Virginia, calling it a step in the right direction.
Distinguished Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada today, urged the PWCS Board to unanimously approve this Diwali holiday, thus respecting the feelings of Hindu community.
Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, suggested that all other public-school districts and private-charter-independent schools in Virginia should 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 Virginia students well-nurtured, well-balanced, and enlightened citizens of tomorrow.
Rajan Zed 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 pupils.
Zed stated that it was not fair with Hindu students and their families as they had to attend school on their most popular festival while many schools in the state were closed on holy days of some other communities. This unfairness did not send a good signal to the impressionable minds of schoolchildren who would be the leaders of tomorrow; Zed said and added that Virginia schools needed to urgently revisit their policies on this issue.
Rajan Zed further said 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.
Zed urged Virginia Governor Ralph S. Northam, Superintendent of Public Instruction Dr. James F. Lane and Board of Education President Daniel A. Gecker; to work towards adding Diwali as an official holiday in all the state’s public schools, and persuading the private-charter-independent schools to follow.
Rajan Zed stresses 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 is oldest and third largest religion of the world with about 1.1 billion adherents. There are about three million Hindus in USA.
Awards-winning PWCS, second largest school division in Virginia whose Mission is “Providing A World-Class Education”, enrolls about 91,524 students in about 100 schools and centers. Basic program cost-per-pupil in Manassas headquartered PWCS is about $11,875, and there is robotics program in every school. Dr. Babur B. Lateef and Dr. Steven L. Walts are its Board Chairman and Superintendent of Schools respectively.