Board of Henrico County Public Schools (HCPS) in Virginia (USA), in its December 12 meeting, reportedly approved its 2020-2021 calendar, and it includes student holiday for Hindu festival Diwali.
Applauding HCPS for this gesture, Hindus are urging all public school districts and private-charter-independent schools in Virginia to close on their most popular festival Diwali.
Distinguished Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada today, said that holiday on Diwali in Virginia schools would be a step in the positive direction 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 Hindu pupils.
Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, indicated that since it was important for Hindu families to celebrate Diwali day together at home with their children; closing schools on Diwali would ensure that and would also display how respectful and accommodating Virginia schools were to their faith.
If schools had declared other religious holidays, why not Diwali, Rajan Zed asked. Holidays of all major religions should be honored and no one should be penalized for practicing their religion, Zed added.
Zed suggested that all Virginia schools, public-private-charter-independent, to 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 Virginia students well-nurtured, well-balanced, and enlightened citizens of tomorrow.
Rajan Zed urged Virginia Governor Ralph S. Northam, Superintendent of Public Instruction Dr. James F. Lane and Board of Education President Daniel A. Gecker; to work towards adding Diwali as an official holiday in all the state’s public schools, and persuading the private-charter-independent schools to follow. Zed also thanked HCPS Board chaired by John W. Montgomery Jr. and HCPS Superintendent Dr. Amy E Cashwell for understanding the concerns of Hindu community.
Zed further says 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 and moksh (liberation) is its ultimate goal. There are about three million Hindus in USA.
HCPS, whose tagline is “The right to achieve. The support to succeed.”, serves 50,182 students in 72 schools and centers.