New York, Dec 17, 2016: Hindus have happily welcomed reports of East Meadow School District in Westbury of New York, adopting Diwali, the most popular and pompously celebrated of their festivals, as an official holiday on the calendar for the 2017-2018 school year.
Reportedly, Diwali was declared as an official holiday by the Nearby Syosset Central School District also very recently.
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Rajan Zed, a Hindu Activist urged all other private schools and public school districts in New York State to do the same, in a statement in Nevada today; describing it as a step in the right direction.
It would be a positive thing to do due to the presence of a substantial number of Hindu pupils at schools around the state, as it was extremely important to meet the spiritual and religious needs of these students.
Zed further stated that schools must make attempts to accommodate the religious requirements of the Hindu students and show proper respect to their faith by not conducting scheduling classes and regular business on Diwali. “We did not want our students to be put at an unnecessary disadvantage for missing assignments, examinations/papers, class work, and etcetera for taking a day-off to celebrate Diwali. If schools had declared other religious holidays, why not Diwali,” Zed asked. He also added, “Holidays of all major religions should be honoured and no one should be penalised for practicing their religion.”
Rajan Zed urged all New York State schools, both private and public, to seriously look into the issue and declare Diwali as an official holiday, realising the intersection of education and spirituality. Zed indicated that awareness about other religions thus created by such holidays like Diwali would make New York State students well balanced, well nurtured, and enlightened citizens of the future.
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Zed urged New York State Education Department Board of Regents Chancellor Betty A. Rosa, New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, and New York State Commissioner of Education Mary Ellen Elia- to work towards making Diwali an official holiday in all the 728 school-districts, and simultaneously persuading the private schools to follow the same.
Hinduism is rich in culture and festivals and religious festivals are very sacred and dear to Hindus. The festival of lights, Diwali, aims to dispel the darkness by ending evils and illuminate the world and stands for a symbol of the victory of good over evil. Apart from Hindus, Jains, Sikhs and some Buddhists also observe Diwali, which falls on October 19 in 2017.
Zed thanked Marcee Rubinstein, the President of EMSD Board of Education and other Board members for supporting Diwali as a holiday. Over 7400 students in nine schools of East Meadow and Westbury communities of Long Island are served by EMSD. Mission Statement of EMSD, established in 1814, states “Understand our cultural heritage”. Leon J. Campo is Superintendent of Schools.
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Hinduism is the oldest and the third largest religion in the world with about one billion adherents and “Moksha” or liberation is its supreme goal and there are about three million Hindus in USA at present.
– prepared by Antara Kumar of NewsGram with Merinews inputs. Twitter: @ElaanaC