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Hindus in New Jersey Welcome Diwali Holiday in Millburn Schools Draft Calendar

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Millburn High School in New Jersey.
Millburn High School in New Jersey. Universal Society of Hinduism

New Jersey October 07: Hindus in New Jersey have welcomed the reports of closing Millburn Township Public Schools (MTPS) on November seven in the Draft Calendar 2018-2019.

Distinguished Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada today, urged the MTPS Board of Education to unanimously approve this Diwali holiday included in the calendar draft when it meets on October nine evening. The board should respect the feelings of Hindus, who had been pushing for Diwali holiday in Millburn Township Public Schools for many years.

Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, indicated that the New Jersey Hindus community felt left out as, despite fast-changing state demographics and continuing growth of Hindu populations, only three public school districts had reportedly declared a holiday for students on October 19, the date on which Diwali falls this year.

For 2017 in New Jersey, Glen Rock Public Schools has announced the closure of schools and offices on Diwali; in West Windsor-Plainsboro Regional School District, schools will be closed on October 19; and in Piscataway Township Schools, there is “No School for Students” on Diwali; reports suggest.

In neighbouring New York, six school districts have declared a holiday for students on October 19, which include: East Meadow School District, East Williston Union Free School District, Half Hollow Hills Central School District, Herricks Union Free School District, Hicksville Union Free School District and Syosset Central School District. Another Mineola Union Free School District announced that no homework or examinations would be given on Diwali, reports add.

In Pennsylvania, Unionville-Chadds Ford School District headquartered in Kennett Square approved closure of schools on Diwali; while Harvard Public Schools in Massachusetts has declared October 19 as “early release day”, reports note.

Rajan Zed suggested that all other 674 public school districts and private-charter-independent schools in New Jersey should 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 New Jersey students well-nurtured, well-balanced, and enlightened citizens of tomorrow.

Zed pointed out that it would be a positive thing to do in view of the presence of a substantial number of New Jersey Hindus, who are students at schools around the state, as it was important to meet the religious and spiritual needs of these pupils.

Rajan Zed stated that it was not fair to Hindu pupils and their families as they had to attend school on their most popular festival while many schools in the state were closed on holy days of some other communities. This unfairness did not send a good signal to the impressionable minds of schoolchildren who would be the leaders of tomorrow; Zed said and added that New Jersey schools needed to urgently revisit their policies on this issue.

Zed further 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 positive direction.

Rajan Zed also urged New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, New Jersey State Board of Education President Arcelio Aponte and New Jersey Department of Education Commissioner Kimberley Harrington; to work towards adding Diwali as an official holiday in all the public school districts in the state and persuading the private-charter-independent schools to follow.

Zed stresses 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 oldest and third largest religion of the world with about 1.1 billion adherents. There are about three million Hindus in the USA.

MTPS, known for academic excellence whose 99% of graduating seniors reportedly attend four-year colleges, has about 5,000 pupils. Emily Jaffe and Dr Christine Burton are Board President and Superintendent respectively. (Universal Society of Hinduism)

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Gurbir S Grewal nominated to be the next attorney general of New Jersey, US

Gurbir S Grewal has been nominated to be the next attorney general of US and would be the first Sikh to assume the top state law enforcement position in United States

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Gurbir S Grewal nominated to be the next attorney general of US.
Gurbir S Grewal nominated to be the next attorney general of US. Facebook
  • Gurbir S Grewal is nominated to be the next attorney general of New Jersey, US
  • He would be the first Sikh to assume the top state law enforcement position

In a historic first, a distinguished Sikh public prosecutor “who has experienced hate and intolerance first-hand” has been nominated to be the next attorney general of the US state of New Jersey.

If Gurbir S. Grewal’s nomination by Democrat Governor-elect Phil Murphy is approved by the State Senate early next year, he will be the first Sikh to assume the top state law enforcement position in the United States and the second Indian-American, after Kamala Harris, who held the position in California before her election to the US Senate.

Announcing the nomination in the state capital, Trenton, on Tuesday, Murphy said: “In light of all that is being thrown at us by the president, we need an attorney general unafraid to join our fellow states in using the law to protect all New Jersey residents.”

Grewal, 44, is the prosecutor of Bergen County, an important district across the river from New York city. He was appointed to by the current Republican Governor Chris Christie and that is likely to mute any opposition the senate.

Symbolic of the public acceptance of minorities despite scattered incidents of bigotry, two Sikhs were elected mayors last month, Ravi Bhalla in Hoboken, New Jersey, and Preet Didbal in Yuba City, California.

Vin Gopal, who became the first Indian-American to be elected to the New Jersey State Senate last month, said that Grewal is someone “not only eminently qualified, but who will bring a perspective to the office that is diverse and long-overdue.”

After Murphy made the announcement, Grewal said: “I wanted to give back to a country that has given us and other immigrant families like us so much.”

Turning to his three daughters, Kyrpa, Mayher and Mahek, who were with him, he said: “As someone who has experienced hate and intolerance first-hand throughout my life, I wanted to work to ensure we all live in and that the three of you grow up in a fair and just society.”

Grewal added: “I wanted to perhaps also show people that while I and others like me may look different or worship differently, that we, too, are committed to this country.”

Hailing Grewal’s nomination, Rajwant Singh, the co-founder of the National Sikh Campaign, said: “These are exactly the kind of role models our youngsters need to feel proud of being a Sikh and an American.”

“While America could be seen having a very polarized situation politically and yet there are some very shining moments to show that people of all backgrounds can aspire for top positions,” he added.

South Asian Bar Association President Rishi Bagga, said: “The decision to appoint a visible minority as the chief law enforcement officer for New Jersey reflects the diversity of the state and of the US, and is especially important in a time where minorities and immigrants have often felt targeted by law enforcement.”

Attorney General is a very powerful position New Jersey heading the Department of Law and Public Safety, which includes the state police.

Grewal has earlier served as an assistant federal prosecutor in New York and in New Jersey, where he was also the chief of the Economic Crimes Unit.

In the administration of former President Barack Obama, Indian Americans have held senior law positions. Neal Kumar Katyal was an Acting Solicitor General.

Sri Srinivasan, now a federal appeals court judge in Washington, did a stint as the Principal Deputy Solicitor General.

Vanita Gupta was the Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General and headed the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.

US President Donald Trump has appointed Uttam Dhillon to be his special assistant and associate counsel. (IANS)

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Goddess Parvati portrayed as “Servant” in a Japanese Mobile Game; Hindus Urge Removal of the Character

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Goddess Parvati
Goddess Parvati characterised as servant in a japnese game. ush

Nevada, October 9: Hindus are upset at “Fate/Grand Order” (FGO) mobile role-playing video game, developed by Japan’s Delightworks Inc., for reportedly portraying goddess Parvati as one of the “new” servants; as it trivializes a highly revered Hindu deity.

Distinguished Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada today, urged Tokyo headquartered Delightworks Inc. to withdraw the character of goddess Parvati in its free-to-play FGO video game, whose tagline is “This is a story about taking back our future”.

Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, said that in this mobile game set-up, the player became the Master who summoned and commanded servants controlling their movements, including goddess Parvati; while in reality, the devotees put the destinies of themselves in the hands of their deities.

Moreover, Goddess Parvati depicted in FGO appeared more like a belly-dancer than the Hindu deity devotees were used to seeing, Rajan Zed pointed out, and termed it as incredibly disrespectful.

Zed indicated that reimagining Hindu scriptures, symbols, concepts and deities for commercial or other agenda was not okay as it hurt the devotees. Controlling and manipulating goddess Parvati by the game-player was denigration. Goddess Parvati was meant to be worshipped in temples and home shrines and not to be reduced to just a “servant” in a video game to be used in combat in the virtual battleground.

Rajan Zed further said that Hindus were for free speech as much as anybody else if not more. But faith was something sacred and attempts at belittling it hurt the devotees. Video game makers should be more sensitive while handling faith related subjects, as these games left a lasting impact on the minds of highly impressionable children, teens and other young people, Zed added.

Hindus welcomed entertainment industry to immerse in Hinduism but taking it seriously and respectfully and not for refashioning Hinduism scriptures, symbols, concepts and deities for mercantile greed. He or other Hindu scholars would gladly provide genuine entertainment industry seekers with the resources they needed for their study and research regarding Hinduism, Zed stressed.

Hinduism was the oldest and third largest religion of the world with about 1.1 billion adherents and a rich philosophical thought and it should not be taken frivolously. No faith, larger or smaller, should be mishandled, Rajan Zed noted.

In this game, Goddess Parvati is shown as carrying Trisula (trident), which is her greatest weapon; while in reality, Trisula is Lord Siva’s most powerful weapon. In the game, when Parvati is equipped with Nandi, it increases her performance; but in Hinduism, Nandi is Lord Siva’s mount. This kind of misinformation spreading creates further confusion among non-Hindus about Hinduism, Zed states.

Delightworks Inc. undertakes planning, development and management of games. Tactical, turn-based FGO, on iOS/Android platform and composed by Kinoko Nasu, is claimed to be “easy to learn, but hard to master”. “Servant” in this game is “an attendant that serves the Master” and follows orders.

Goddess Parvati finds mention in Mahabharata and Puranas.

One response to “Goddess Parvati portrayed as “Servant” in a Japanese Mobile Game; Hindus Urge Removal of the Character”

  1. It isn’t like how they portrayed the Goddess was disrespectful and who cares if they make a mistake or two in a 100% accurate portrayal if someone does find interest in learning more about the Goddess they can just do research on their own as many would realize a game is different from real life and shouldn’t be seen as a perfect source of information in regards to real world topics they mention.

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US Schools to Consider Official Holiday on Hindu Festival Diwali

Rajan Zed confirms the step will lead to culturally and religiously enlightened citizens of tomorrow

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Diwali
Candles and Rangoli on the occasion of Diwali. Pixabay
  • Many Public school districts in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania have already declared a day off for Diwali
  • There has been an estimated 1 million increase in Hindus in the USA making it 1% of its total population
  • Rajan Zed, a social activist, says it is important to meet the religious and spiritual needs of Hindu people

June 26, 2017: Hindu citizens of the Texas city in the USA  are promoting all public school districts and private-charter-independent schools to stay closed on Diwali, which is the most celebrated and famous festival of Hindus and is to be observed on October 19 this year.

Many public school districts in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania have already declared a day off for Diwali, while others are still considering this decision. Zed suggested all Texas schools, public-private-charter-independent, to seriously deal with this matter for ensuring the connection between spirituality and education. This, in turn, will lead to culturally and religiously enlightened citizens of tomorrow.

According to a social activist, Rajan Zed, it would be a step in the positive direction, as it was important to meet the religious and spiritual needs of Hindu people.

Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, insists schools on making attempts to accommodate the religious requirements of Hindu students and show respect to their faith by not carrying out daily business and taking classes on Diwali. He does not want students to bear an unwanted disadvantage for missing important assignments and work at school by taking a day off to observe Diwali. He urged Texas Governor Greg Abbott, Texas Commissioner of Education Mike Morath and Texas State Board of Education Chair Donna Bahorich to work towards adding Diwali as an official holiday in all the state’s public schools and motivating others to follow.

Zed asked schools to consider Diwali holiday on par with other religious holidays. He focused on equality of all religions without discriminating or isolating some. There has been an estimated 1 million increase in Hindus in the USA making it 1% of its total population. Zed further stressed the importance of Diwali being the festival of victory of good over evil and the value it holds to the Hindu culture which is also one of the richest cultures in the world.

Prepared by Surbhi Dhawan. Twitter @surbhi_dhawan