Welcoming 10 public school districts in Virginia reportedly closing schools for students on Diwali this year, Hindus are urging the rest of the 24 public school districts and all private-charter-independent-parochial schools in Northern and Central Virginia to close on their most popular festival Diwali.
Diwali falls on October 24 this year; and 2022-2023 calendars of Alexandria City, Arlington, Fairfax County, Falls Church City, Goochland County, Henrico County, Loudoun County, Powhatan County, Prince William County, Richmond Public Schools in Virginia show holiday for students on October 24.
Distinguished Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada today, said that it was simply not fair with Hindu pupils of most of the schools in Northern and Central Virginia, as they had to be at school on their most popular festival while schools were closed around commemoration of other religious days.
Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, stated that holiday on Diwali in Northern and Central Virginia schools would be a step in the positive direction in view of the reported presence of a substantial number of Hindu students at schools in these parts of the state, as it was important to meet the religious and spiritual needs of Hindu pupils.
Rajan Zed 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 Northern and Central Virginia schools were to their faith.
If schools had declared holidays around other religious days, why not Diwali, Zed asked. Holidays of all major religions should be honored and no one should be penalized for practicing their religion, Zed added.
Rajan Zed suggested all Northern and Central Virginia schools, public-private-charter-independent-parochial, 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 Northern and Central Virginia students well-nurtured, well-balanced, and enlightened citizens of tomorrow.
Zed urged Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin, Virginia Superintendent of Public Instruction Jillian Balow and Virginia Board of Education President Daniel A. Gecker; to work towards adding Diwali as an official holiday in all the Northern and Central Virginia public schools, and persuading the private-charter-independent-parochial schools to follow. Zed also thanked Boards of Education of 10 public school districts in Virginia which closed schools for students on Diwali; for understanding the concerns of Hindu community.
Rajan 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.
Hinduism is the oldest and third largest religion of the world with about 1.2 billion adherents and moksh (liberation) is its ultimate goal. There are about three million Hindus in the USA.