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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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Candles and Rangoli on the occasion of Diwali. Pixabay
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  • 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

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Delhi’s Air Quality Leads To Ban On Trucks And Construction

The measures include a ban on industries using coal and biomass, brick kilns, construction activities and entry of trucks into Delhi.

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India, air pollution, WHO, diwali, Pollution, Delhi, egypt, air quality
A man walks in front of the India Gate shrouded in smog in New Delhi, India. VOA

With no improvement in the air quality of Delhi-NCR even three days after Diwali, the environment authority on Saturday extended the ban on the entry of trucks, construction and polluting industries.

The Supreme Court-appointed Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority (EPCA) on Saturday ordered the Delhi government to extend the ban which was imposed on November 2.

Pollution, Delhi, egypt, air quality
As pollution levels spike, Delhi and its satellite towns are enveloped in a haze of smog. VOA

The restrictions imposed till November 10 were extended to November 12, by when there will be an improvement in the air quality of Delhi-NCR, as forecast by pollution monitoring agencies.

The restrictions were imposed by the EPCA under the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP).

Delhi’s air quality started deteriorating a day after Diwali to “severe-plus” or “emergency” due to fireworks and weather conditions like wind speed and dipping mercury, leading to lower dispersion rate of pollutants. The Air Quality Index (AQI) on Saturday was 401 or “severe”.

India, air pollution, WHO, diwali, Pollution, Delhi, egypt, air quality
A bird flies past the Humayun’s Tomb shrouded in smog in New Delhi, India. VOA

“The CPCB-headed task force has informed EPCA that given the prevailing adverse conditions, the following measures will remain until November 12, when it will further review the situation and inform us,” said EPCA Chairman Bhure Lal, in a letter to Delhi Chief Secretary Anshu Prakash, the Delhi Environment Secretary and the Delhi Pollution Control Committee.

Also Read: Delhi’s Pollution Brings Down The Diwali High

The measures include a ban on industries using coal and biomass, brick kilns, construction activities and entry of trucks into Delhi. The restrictions exclude power plants and waste to energy plants. (IANS)