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A Step Towards Inclusiveness: New York’s Hicksville Public Schools Declare Diwali as Holiday

The Hindu Indian-American community have welcomed the inclusion of Diwali, most popular of their festival, as holiday by Hicksville Union Free School District (HUFSD) in New York State

New York, Mar 28, 2017: About 3 million Hindus reside in USA. The Hindu Indian-American community have welcomed the inclusion of Diwali, most popular of their festival, as holiday by Hicksville Union Free School District (HUFSD) in New York State on its School Calendar for 2017-2018, thus closing schools and offices on October 19, as reported by Merinews. HUFSD operates ten schools.
Nearby Syosset Central School District, East Meadow School District, Half Hollow Hills Central School District, East Williston Union Free School District and Herricks Union Free School District all recently declared Diwali as an official holiday. Mineola Union Free School District announced that no home work or examinations would be given on Diwali, reports suggest.
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Rajan Zed, distinguished Hindu statesman and President of Universal Society of Hinduism, had said that, that this decision is a step in the right direction and had further urged all other public school districts and private-charter-independent schools in New York State to do the same.

Zed, had said that it’s a positive thing to do in view of presence of a substantial number of Hindu students at schools around the state, as it was important to meet the religious and spiritual needs of these pupils. He had said that, without an official holiday Hindu students would be in an unnecessary disadvantage for missing tests/examinations/papers, assignments, class work, etc., by taking a day-off to observe Diwali.

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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, Zed added

Zed noted that awareness about other religions thus created by such holidays like Diwali would enable New York State students to be 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 728 school districts, and persuading the private-charter-independent schools to do the same.

Zed thanked HUFSD Board of Education President Phil Heckler and other Board members for supporting Diwali holiday.

Prepared by Upama Bhattacharya. Twitter @Upama_myself

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