Hindus welcome New York’s Port Washington School District looking into Diwali holiday

Hindus have welcomed Port Washington Union Free School District (PWUFSD) in New York State for reportedly looking into adding Diwali, the most popular Hindu festival, as a holiday.

In a recent meeting of PWUFSD Board of Education, Diwali holiday was reportedly discussed and it was stated that efforts were being made in this direction and the Board was looking into it and hoping to be able to do it.

Welcoming PWUFSD stance on working towards Diwali holiday; distinguished Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada today, said that Diwali holiday in PWUFSD would be a step in the positive direction in view of presence of a substantial number of Hindu students in the District; as it was important to meet the religious and spiritual needs of these pupils.

Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, stressed that PWUFSD should seriously and speedily work towards 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 Port Washington students well-nurtured, well-balanced, and enlightened citizens of tomorrow.

Diwali fell on October 19 in 2017 and neighboring six New York school districts declared holiday for students on October 19, which included: East Meadow School District, East Williston Union Free School District, Half Hollow Hills Central School District, Herricks Union Free School District, Hicksville Union Free School District and Syosset Central School District. Mineola Union Free School District announced that no home work or examinations would be given on Diwali, reports suggest.

For 2017 in neighboring New Jersey; Glen Rock Public Schools announced closure of schools and offices on Diwali; in West Windsor-Plainsboro Regional School District, schools were closed on October 19; and in Piscataway Township Schools, there was “No School for Students” on Diwali. And recently Millburn Township Public Schools announced Diwali day off for students for the next three years, reports add.

In 2017 Unionville-Chadds Ford School District headquartered in Kennett Square in Pennsylvania approved closure of schools on Diwali; while Harvard Public Schools in Massachusetts declared October 19 as “early release day”, reports note.

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 indicates 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.

Educational philosophy of PWUFSD, with seven schools and about 5,300 students, includes: “dedicated to fostering in each student the ability and character to fashion a worthy and successful life in a changing world”. Port Washington’s first school, the one-room Flower Hill School, is said to have been built in 1757. Karen Sloan is Board President and Dr. Kathleen A. Mooney is Superintendent of PWUFSD.

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