The move has been welcomed by several Hindu parents as children were often hesitant to take undesignated days off on the major Hindu holiday during which other children worked for fear of missing out on tests, assignments and other school work
The East Meadow School District (EMSD) in Westbury, New York, announced that it would be adopting Diwali as an official holiday for the forthcoming year’s school calendar. The move has been welcomed by several Hindu parents as children were often hesitant to take undesignated days off on the major Hindu holiday during which other children worked for fear of missing out on tests, assignments and other school work.
Rajan Zed, President of Universal Society of Hinduism, and a statesman in the State of Nevada welcomed the move by releasing a statement calling for all the other 728 schools, both private and public, in the New York district, to also consider adopting the same resolution. Syosset Central School District had recently also adopted the festival as an official holiday.
Zed pointed out that it would be a positive thing to do in view of presence of a substantial number of Hindu students, as it was important to meet the religious and spiritual needs of these pupils. He stated that schools should make efforts to accommodate the religious requirements of Hindu students and show respect to their faith by not scheduling classes on Diwali. “We did not want our students to be put at an unnecessary disadvantage for missing tests/examinations/papers, assignments, class work, etc., by taking a day-off to observe Diwali. If schools had declared other religious holidays, why not Diwali?” Zed asked.
He called upon the state to recognize the intersection of spirituality and education. Zed noted that awareness about other religions thus created by such holidays like Diwali would make New York State students “well-nurtured, well-balanced, and enlightened citizens of tomorrow.”
Zed urged New York Governor Andrew M Cuomo, New York State Education Department Board of Regents Chancellor Betty A. Rosa and New York State Commissioner of Education MaryEllen Elia; to work towards adding Diwali as an official holiday in all the 728 school districts, and persuading the private schools to follow. 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. Besides Hindus; Sikhs and Jains and some Buddhists also celebrate Diwali, which falls on October 19 in 2017.
Zed thanked EMSD Board of Education Preside-nt Marcee Rubinstein and other Board members for supporting Diwali holiday. EMSD serves over 7,400 students in nine schools of East Meadow and Westbury communities of Long Island. Mission Statement of EMSD, formed in 1814, includes “Understand our cultural heritage”. Leon J. Campo is Superintendent of Schools.
Hinduism is oldest and third largest religion of the world with about one billion adherents and moksh (liberation) is its ultimate goal. There are about three million Hindus in USA.