Over 27 school districts in New Jersey will reportedly stay closed for students on November 7, the day of most popular Hindu festival Diwali.
In addition, there will reportedly be early dismissal for students in other over 15 New Jersey school districts on Diwali day of November seven.
Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, who has been actively backing inclusion of Diwali holiday in New Jersey schools, in a statement in Nevada today, called it “a step in the positive direction”, and offered thanks to these school districts for understanding the feelings of Hindu community and displaying respect and accommodation to their faith.
Although many of these school districts had given reasons other than Diwali of closing schools for students or their early dismissal on November seven, but it provided a wonderful opportunity for Hindu families residing in these districts to celebrate Diwali day together at home with their children; Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, indicated.
Rajan Zed suggested that all New Jersey schools, public-private-charter-independent, to seriously look into declaring Diwali as an official holiday in view of presence of a substantial number of Hindu students in New Jersey, thus recognizing the intersection of spirituality and education and meeting the religious and spiritual needs of the pupils. 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.
If schools had declared other religious holidays, 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 urged New Jersey Governor Philip D. Murphy, New Jersey 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 for 12, Navaratri for nine, and Diwali for five.
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.