Hindus Call for Diwali Celebration in All NJ Schools
Welcoming 23 New Jersey public school districts closing their schools on Diwali this year, Hindus are urging all public school districts and private independent schools in the state to close their most popular Diwali festival.
In a statement in Nevada today, Hindu statesman Rajan Zed said it’s just not fair to Hindu students in most schools in New Jersey because they have to be in school during their most popular festival while there were holidays to commemorate the festivals of other religions.
Diwali falls on October 24 this year; and the 2022-2023 calendars of Bernards Township, Bridgewater-Raritan Regional, Central Bucks, Cherry Hill, Clifton, East Brunswick, Edison Township, Fair Lawn, Glen Rock, Hillsborough Township, Hopewell Valley Regional, Livingston, Marlboro Township, Millburn Township, Monroe Township, Montgomery Township, Paramus, Parsippany-Troy Hills Township, Piscataway Township, Robbinsville, Sayreville, South Brunswick, West Windsor-Plainsboro Regional School-Districts/Public-Schools/Schools; show that their schools are closed to students on October 24.
Additionally, Colts Neck Township Schools, Englewood Cliffs Public Schools, and West Long Branch School District are offering “Short Session Day,” “Single Session,” and “Early Termination” on October 24, respectively. .
Zed, who is president of the Universal Society of Hinduism, said a Diwali holiday in New Jersey schools would be a step in the right direction given the reported attendance of large numbers of students. Hindus in state schools, as it was important to meet the religious and spiritual needs of Hindu students.
Rajan Zed said that since it was important for Hindu families to celebrate Diwali with their children at home, closing schools on Diwali would ensure that and also show how schools in New Jersey were respectful and accommodating to their faith.
If schools had declared other religious holidays, why not Diwali, Zed asked.
The holidays of all major religions should be honored and no one should be penalized for practicing their religion, Zed added.
Rajan Zed suggested that all schools in New Jersey, public-private-independent, seriously consider declaring Diwali a holiday, thereby recognizing the intersection of spirituality and education.
Zed noted that the awareness of “other” religions thus created by holidays such as Diwali would make New Jersey students the well-nourished, well-rounded, and enlightened citizens of tomorrow.
Zed urged New Jersey Governor Philip D. Murphy, Acting New Jersey Education Commissioner Dr. Angelica Allen-McMillan, and New Jersey State Board of Education Chair Kathy Goldenberg; work towards adding Diwali as a public holiday in all public schools in the state and persuade private independent charter schools to follow suit.
Zed also thanked school district school boards, which closed schools for students on Diwali, for understanding the concerns of the Hindu community.
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 to dispel darkness and enlighten lives and symbolizes the victory of good over evil.
The New Jersey State Board of Education’s “List of Religious Holidays Allowing Students to Absent from School” contains 21 Hindu holidays; which include Guru Purnima, Onam, Naga Panchami, Raksha Bandhan, Krishna Janmashtami, Ganesh Chaturthi, Navaratri, Diwali, Goverdhan Puja, Makar Sankranti, Pongal, Vasant Panchami, Maha Shivaratri, Govinda Dwadashi, Meena Sankranthi, Holika Dahan, Holi, Souramana Yugadi , Chandramana Yugadi, Ramnavami, Hanuman Jayanti. Onam is listed here for 12 days, Navaratri for nine days and Diwali for five days.
Hinduism is the oldest and third largest religion in the world, with approximately 1.2 billion adherents and moksh (liberation) is its ultimate goal. There are approximately three million Hindus in the United States.