Hindus have applauded Maryland’s Howard County Board of Education for reportedly unanimously incorporating most popular Hindu festival Diwali as a day-off in the 2016–2017 Academic Calendar of 76 Howard County Public School System (HCPSS) schools.
Calling it a step in the positive direction, distinguished Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada today, said that awareness about other religions thus created by such holidays like Diwali would make the HCPSS pupils well-nurtured, well-balanced, and enlightened citizens of tomorrow. It would make HCPSS look good also besides bringing cohesion and unity in the community, Zed added.
Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, urged the Board to continue with the tradition of Diwali day-off in the coming years also. Zed also urged the nearby Montgomery County Public Schools to follow the lead of HCPSS and grant Diwali day-off in view of longstanding wish and substantial population of Hindu community. Zed suggested the HCPSS Hindu students to invite others to Diwali festival celebrations so that they had better understanding of our traditions.
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 all school districts across USA to declare Diwali as school holiday.
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.
Graduation rate of HCPSS, which has 54,870 students, is 93%, and 85% of its students attend college. Christine E. O’Connor is Chairman of the Board and Dr. Renee A. Foose is the HCPSS Superintendent, whose “Guiding Principles” include “Enriching learning by honoring our diversity”.