Hindus are asking for a Diwali holiday in all the 18 public school districts in Somerset County (New Jersey); while schools in only four of these districts are closing on October 24, the day of their most popular festival Diwali in 2022.
Schools are closed only in Bernards, Bridgewater-Raritan, Hillsborough, Montgomery school districts on October 24 in 2022; while schools are open in Bedminster, Bound Brook, Branchburg, Franklin, Green Brook, Manville, North Plainfield, Somerset County Vocational and Technical, Somerset Hills, Somerville, South Bound Brook, Warren, Watchung Borough, Watchung Hills school districts in Somerset County. Only preschool is closed in Branchburg Township School District.
Distinguished Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada today, said that it was simply not fair with Hindu pupils in these 14 school districts of Somerset County; as they had to be at school on their most popular festival, while schools were closed around other religious days.
Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, stated that since it was vital 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 these schools were to their faith.
Rajan Zed indicated that holiday on Diwali in all Somerset County school districts would be a step in the positive direction in view of the reported presence of a considerable number of Hindu students; as it was important to meet the religious and spiritual needs of Hindu pupils.
If schools had declared holidays around other religious days, why not Diwali, Zed asked. Holidays of all major religions should be honored and no one should be penalized for practicing their religion, Zed added.
Rajan Zed suggested these 14 school districts in Somerset County 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 their students well-nurtured, well-balanced, and enlightened citizens of tomorrow.
Zed thanked superintendents and boards of Bernards, Bridgewater-Raritan, Hillsborough, Montgomery school districts, which closed schools for students on Diwali day in 2022; for understanding the concerns of 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 at dispelling the darkness and lighting up the lives and symbolizes the victory of good over evil.
Hinduism is the oldest and third largest religion of the world with about 1.2 billion adherents and moksh (liberation) is its ultimate goal. There are about three million Hindus in the USA.