Hindus advocate for Diwali holiday in Santa Clara County schools in California

Hindus are urging closure of all—public, charter, private, parochial— schools in Santa Clara County (California) on their most popular festival Diwali.

Distinguished Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada today, said that it was simply not fair with Hindu pupils in schools in Santa Clara County, as they had to be at school on their most popular festival; while Santa Clara County schools were closed during festivities of other religions.

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 Santa Clara County schools would be a step in the positive direction in view of the reported presence of a substantial 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 all Santa Clara County schools 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 urged superintendent and board presidents of all the 31 school districts in Santa Clara County to work towards adding Diwali as an official holiday in their schools. Zed also sought the support of California State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond, Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors​​​​​​ President Mike Wasserman, Santa Clara County Superintendent of Schools​ Dr. Mary Ann Dewan, Santa Clara County Board of Education President Peter Ortiz in persuading public, charter, private, parochial schools of Santa Clara County to declare Diwali as holiday.

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. Diwali falls on October 24 this year.

Larger public-school districts in Santa Clara County include San José Unified School District, East Side Union High School District, Cupertino Union School District, Santa Clara Unified School District, Palo Alto Unified School District, Fremont Union High School District, etc.

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.

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