Reno, Nev. (May 1, 2017) — Hindus have welcomed the inclusion of Diwali, most popular of their festival, as holiday by Unionville-Chadds Ford School District headquartered in Kennett Square in Pennsylvania, on its School Calendar for 2017-2018; thus closing schools on October 19.
In a statement from Nevada on Monday, Rajan Zed, president of Universal Society of Hinduism, said it as a step in the right direction, and urged all other public school districts and private-charter-independent schools in Pennsylvania to do the same. He said it would be a positive thing to do 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 these 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, Zed said.
“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,” Zed said. “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 suggested all Pennsylvania 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 Pennsylvania students well-nurtured, well-balanced, and enlightened citizens of tomorrow.
Zed urged 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 about 500 public school districts, and persuading the private-charter-independent schools to follow.
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.
Zed thanked UCFSD Board President Victor E. Dupuis and other Board members for supporting Diwali holiday. UCFSD serves over 4,000 students in a 77- square-mile area encompassing seven townships; including Kennett Square, Chadds Ford and West Chester. With 100 percent graduation rate, it claims to have been “listed as the No. 1 school district in Pennsylvania”. Its Unionville Elementary celebrated its 90th anniversary in 2013. Dr. John C. Sanville is the Superintendent.
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.