Hindus want schools in Madison County (Mississippi) to stay closed on Diwali; the most popular of their festivals.
It includes schools in Madison County School District (MCSD) and Canton Public School District (CPSD), affecting over 16, 500 students.
They are urging MCSD Board President Bill Grissett and Superintendent Charlotte Seals; and CPSD Board Chairman Johnny Brown and Superintendent Gary P. Hannah to adopt Diwali as an official holiday.
Distinguished Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement today, pointed out that it would be a step in the positive direction in view of the reported presence of a substantial number of Hindu students in Madison County; as it was important to meet the religious and spiritual needs of these pupils. Some school districts in various other US states had reportedly declared Diwali as a holiday.
Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, indicated that schools should make efforts to accommodate the religious requirements of Hindu students and show respect to their faith by not conducting regular business and scheduling classes on Diwali. We did not want our students to be put at an unnecessary disadvantage for missing tests/examinations/papers, assignments, class work, etc.; by taking a day-off to observe Diwali.
Rajan Zed suggested MCSD and CPSD 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 MCSD and CPSD students well-nurtured, well-balanced, and enlightened citizens of tomorrow.
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 the oldest and third largest religion of the world with about 1.2 billion adherents and moksh (liberation) is its ultimate goal. There are about three million Hindus in the USA.
MCSD is headquartered in Ridgeland, while CPSD is based in Canton.