Hindus want Diwali be declared a school holiday in Jersey City, Edison, Woodbridge, Parsippany-Troy Hills, West Windsor-Plainsboro, North Brunswick, Monroe and Bernards school districts in New Jersey (USA).
Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada (USA) today, said that since it was important for Hindu families to celebrate Diwali day together at home with their children, we did not want our children to be deprived of any privileges at the school because of thus resulting absences on this day. Closing schools on Diwali would ensure that and it would be “a step in the right direction”.
Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, argued that awareness about other religions thus created by such holidays like Diwali would make the pupils of these eight school districts well-nurtured, well-balanced, and enlightened citizens of tomorrow. It would make these districts look good also besides bringing cohesion and unity in the community.
According to Rajan Zed, Diwali, the festival of lights, aims at dispelling the darkness and lighting up the lives and symbolizes the victory of good over evil. Hindus worship goddess of good fortune and beauty Lakshmi, god of wisdom and auspiciousness Ganesh, and mountain Goverdhan on this day. Also on this day, coronation of Lord Ram was held, Lord Hanuman was born, Lord Vishnu returned kingdom to monkey king Bali of Kiskindha, Lord Vishnu and goddess Lakshmi married, Lord Krishan killed demon Narakasur, and ancient king Vikramaditya was crowned. On this day of forgiveness, festivities, and friendliness; families and friends get together for worship followed by a sumptuous and elaborate feast. It is also considered a harvest festival. Besides Hindus, Sikhs and Jains and some Buddhists also celebrate Diwali.
Although Hindus were asking for Diwali holiday in these eight school districts, it would be still better if all school districts in New Jersey, one of the most ethnically and religiously diverse states, declared Diwali as school holiday, Zed argued.
In New Jersey, South Brunswick School District and Passaic City School District have already declared Diwali as holiday, while Bernards Township School District is still considering demand for Diwali as a school holiday. Los Angeles Unified School District (California) lists Diwali in its “Calendar of Commemorative Dates and Observances”, while New Jersey Department of Education includes Diwali in its “List of Religious Holidays Permitting Pupil Absence From School”. US President has observed Diwali at White House. An official Diwali reception has reportedly been held at the New Zealand Parliament for the last few years. Two east London (United Kingdom) boroughs (Waltham Forest and Newham) have reportedly announced Diwali as school closure day in all the community primary and secondary schools.
Universal Society of Hinduism has already urged Queen Bee Schools District and Marquardt School District in Glendale Heights (Illinois), Fremont Unified School District (California), Sunnyvale School District (California), Cambridge School Committee (Massachusetts) and Burlington School Board (Vermont) in USA to add Diwali on their respective holiday calendars.
New Jersey is most densely populated and second wealthiest state in the country and Gujarati, Hindi, Telugu, Tamil, Malayalam, etc., are spoken in its various parts. Chris Christie is New Jersey governor.
Hinduism, oldest and third largest religion of the world, has about one billion adherents and moksh (liberation) is its ultimate goal.