Published Aug 3, 2017 at 2:19 pm
(Updated Aug 2, 2017)
Like Unionville-Chadds Ford School District (UCFSD) headquartered in Kennett Square (Pennsylvania), Hindus are urging all public school districts and private-charter-independent schools in Pennsylvania to close on Oct. 19, the day of their most popular festival Diwali this year.
Besides UCFSD in Pennsylvania, many public school districts in New York and New Jersey have already reportedly declared day-off for students on Oct. 19.
It would be a step in the positive direction, as it was important to meet the religious and spiritual needs of Hindu pupils. Schools should make efforts to accommodate the religious requirements of Hindu students and show respect to their faith by not conducting regular business and 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? Holidays of all major religions should be honored and no one should be penalized for practicing their religion.
All Pennsylvania schools, public-private-charter-independent, should seriously look into declaring Diwali as an official holiday, thus recognizing the intersection of spirituality and education. Awareness about other religions thus created by such holidays like Diwali would make Pennsylvania students well-nurtured, well-balanced, and enlightened citizens of tomorrow.
I urge Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf, Pennsylvania Secretary of Education Pedro A. Rivera and Chairperson of Pennsylvania State Board of Education Larry Wittig 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.
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.
Rajan Zed, President
Universal Society of Hinduism
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