Guest Opinion: Lauding Bernards for Diwali holiday, Hindus want all New Jersey schools close on Diwali
Welcoming Bernards Township School District (BTSD) in New Jersey declaring Diwali holiday for students during 2022-23 school year, Hindus are urging all public school districts and private-charter-independent schools in New Jersey to close on their most popular festival Diwali.
BTSD calendar 2022-23, posted on its website, shows schools closed on October 24, 2022 for Diwali.
Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada today, said that holiday on Diwali in New Jersey schools would be a step in the positive direction in view of presence of a substantial number of Hindu students at schools around the state, as it was important to meet the religious and spiritual needs of Hindu pupils.
Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, 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 New Jersey schools were to their faith.
If schools had declared other religious holidays, why not Diwali, Rajan Zed asked. Holidays of all major religions should be honored and no one should be penalized for practicing their religion, Zed added.
Zed suggested that all New Jersey schools, public-private-charter-independent, 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 New Jersey students well-nurtured, well-balanced, and enlightened citizens of tomorrow.
Rajan Zed urged New Jersey Governor Philip D. Murphy, New Jersey Education Commissioner Dr. Lamont Repollet and New Jersey State Board of Education President Kathy Goldenberg; 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 also thanked BTSD Board of Education lead by Robin McKeon and BTSD Superintendent Nick Markarian for understanding the concerns of Hindu community.
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 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.
Mission of awards-winning BTSD, which runs six schools, is “to provide a superior education which results in academic excellence, responsible behavior, good citizenship and fosters social-emotional development”.