NEW YORK – Welcoming East Williston Union Free School District (EWUFSD) in New York declaring holiday on November 7, for Diwali, a Hindu leader is urging all public school districts and private-charter-independent schools in New York state to close on their most popular festival Diwali.
Zed, President of Universal Society of Hinduism, in a statement in Nevada, said that holiday on Diwali in New York schools would be a step in the positive direction in view of presence of a substantial number of Hindu students at many schools around the state, as it was important to meet the religious and spiritual needs of Hindu pupils.
Zed said in a press release 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 York schools were to their faith.
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, he added.
Zed suggested that all New York 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 York students well-nurtured, well-balanced, and enlightened citizens of tomorrow.
Zed urged New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, New York State Education Department Board of Regents Chancellor Betty A. Rosa and New York State Commissioner of Education MaryEllen Elia to work towards adding Diwali as an official holiday in all the 733 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.
Jericho School District of New York have also included Diwali holiday in its 2018-2019 calendar. For 2017 in New York state, six school districts declared holiday for students on October 19, which included: East Meadow School District, East Williston Union Free School District, Half Hollow Hills Central School District, Herricks Union Free School District, Hicksville Union Free School District and Syosset Central School District. Mineola Union Free School District announced that no home-work or examinations would be given on Diwali, reports suggest.
EWUFSD Board of Education unanimously adopted 2018-2019 calendar on a motion moved by President Mark Kamberg, which included schools closed on November 7 for Diwali. Dr. Elaine Kanas is Superintendent of EWUFSD, headquartered in Old Westbury, whose tagline is “Learning for a Lifetime”.
Hinduism is oldest and third largest religion of the world with about 1.1 billion adherents. There are about three million Hindus in the US.