Hindus are urging California’s Stockton-Lincoln-Lodi-Manteca Unified School Districts and all private and charter schools of the area to close on their most popular festival Diwali.
Distinguished Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada today, said that it was simply not fair with Hindu pupils in Stockton area schools as they had to be at school on their most popular festival, while area schools were closed during festivities of other religions.
Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, stated that since it was vital 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 these schools were to their faith.
Rajan Zed indicated that holiday on Diwali in Stockton area schools would be a step in the positive direction in view of the reported presence of a substantial number of Hindu students; as it was important to meet the religious and spiritual needs of Hindu pupils.
If schools had declared other religious holidays, why not Diwali, Zed asked. Holidays of all major religions should be honored and no one should be penalized for practicing their religion, Zed added.
Rajan Zed suggested that all Stockton area schools 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 their students well-nurtured, well-balanced, and enlightened citizens of tomorrow.
Zed urged Stockton Superintendent John Ramirez and Board President Cecilia Mendez, Lincoln Superintendent Kelly Dextraze and Trustees President Jenny Van De Pol, Lodi Superintendent Cathy Nichols-Washer and Board President Susan Macfarlane, Manteca Superintendent Clark Burke and Board President Marie Freitas to work towards adding Diwali as an official holiday in their schools, and persuading the area private and charter schools to follow.
Rajan 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. Diwali falls on October 24 this year.
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.