Twelve school districts in New Jersey will reportedly stay closed for students on November seven, the day of most popular Hindu festival Diwali; while one will close on November six for Diwali.
There will be no classes for students in Chesterfield Township School District, Clifton Public Schools, Glen Rock Public Schools, Jersey City Public Schools, Millburn Township Public Schools, Monroe Township School District, Montgomery Township School District, North Brunswick Township School District, Passaic Public Schools, Piscataway Township Schools, South Brunswick School District and West Windsor-Plainsboro Regional School District on November seven. There will be no school for students in Edison Township Public Schools on November six due to Diwali, reports suggest.
There will be Abbreviated Schedule on November seven at Bernards Township School District (BTSD), while Englewood Cliffs Public Schools will have a Single Session Day on November seven to mark Diwali. November seven comes during Fall Recess for students at Woodbridge Township School District. BTSD has announced to close school for students on Diwali when Diwali falls on a weekday starting with the 2021-2022 school year, reports add.
Distinguished Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, who has been actively supporting inclusion of Diwali holiday in New Jersey schools, in a statement in Nevada today, called closing schools on Diwali day by these 13 New Jersey school districts “a step in the positive direction”. He urged all public school districts and private-charter-independent schools in New Jersey to close on Diwali in view of presence of a substantial number of Hindu students in New Jersey; as it was important to meet the religious and spiritual needs of these pupils.
Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, indicated that since it was important for Hindu families to celebrate Diwali day together at home with their children; closing schools on Diwali would ensure that and would also display how respectful and accommodating New Jersey schools were to their faith.
If schools had declared other religious holidays, why not Diwali, Rajan Zed asked. Holidays of all major religions should be honored and no one should be penalized for practicing their religion, Zed added.
Zed suggested that all New Jersey schools, public-private-charter-independent, 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 New Jersey students well-nurtured, well-balanced, and enlightened citizens of tomorrow.
Rajan Zed urged New Jersey Governor Philip D. Murphy, New Jersey Acting Education Commissioner Dr. Lamont Repollet and New Jersey State Board of Education President Arcelio Aponte; 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.
Zed states 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.
“The List of Religious Holidays Permitting Student Absence from School” of the New Jersey State Board of Education contains 19 Hindu holidays, which include Chandramana Yugadi, Diwali, Dussehra, Ganesh Chaturthi, Goverdhan Puja, Guru Purnima, Hanuman Jayanti, Holi, Krishna Janmashtami, Maha Shivaratri, Makar Sankranti, Naga Panchami, Navaratri, Onam, Pongal, Raksha Bandhan, Ramnavami, Souramana Yugadi, Vasant Panchami. Onam is listed for 13 days, Ganesh Chaturthi is listed for 12, while Navaratri is listed for nine days.
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.