NEW YORK–Seven school districts in New York state will stay closed on November 7, the day of most popular Hindu festival Diwali; while another one has announced “student recess” on the same day.
Schools in East Meadow School District (Westbury), East Williston Union Free School District (Old Westbury), Half Hollow Hills Central School District (Dix Hills), Herricks Public Schools (New Hyde Park), Hicksville Public Schools (Hicksville), Jericho School District (Jericho), Syosset Central School District (Syosset), will stay closed on November seven (Diwali day); while Port Washington Union Free School District (Port Washington) has announced “student recess” on Nov. 7, according to news reports.
Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, who has been actively supporting inclusion of Diwali holiday in New York state schools, in a statement in Nevada called closing schools on Diwali day by these New York school districts “a step in the positive direction”. He urged all public school districts and private-charter-independent schools in New York state to close on Diwali; as it was important to meet the religious and spiritual needs of Hindu pupils.
Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, said 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 New York schools were to their faith.
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.
Zed suggested that all New York state 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 New York students well-nurtured, well-balanced, and enlightened citizens of tomorrow.
Rajan Zed urged New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, New York State Education Department Board of Regents Chancellor Betty A. Rosa and New York State Commissioner of Education MaryEllen Elia; to work towards adding Diwali as an official holiday in all the 733 public school districts, and persuading the private-charter-independent schools to follow.