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Pro-Hindu groups seek Diwali holiday in New York City schools

Hindus are urging New York City (NYC) Department of Education to include Diwali, the most popular Hindu festival to be declared a school holiday in their 2015-2016 school calendars and beyond.

In a statement today, pro-Hindu lobbyist Rajan Zed said that it was not fair with Hindu pupils and their families as they had to attend school on their most popular festival.

NYC Department of Education School Calendar 2015-2016 includes the holiday closures on Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Eid al-Adha and Good Friday; and now NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio has reportedly added Lunar New Year holiday.

Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, indicated that this unfairness did not send a good signal to the impressionable minds of schoolchildren who would be the leaders of tomorrow. Holidays of all major religions should be honored and no one should be penalized for practicing their religion. Moreover, it was important to meet the religious and spiritual needs of these students, Zed added

Rajan Zed stressed that since it was important for Hindu families to celebrate Diwali day together at home with their children, we did not want our children to be deprived of any privileges at the school because of thus resulting absences on this day. Closing schools on Diwali would ensure that and it would be a step in the right direction.

Zed noted that awareness about other religions thus created by such holidays like Diwali would make the NYC pupils well-nurtured, well-balanced, and enlightened citizens of tomorrow.

Diwali, the festival of lights, aims at dispelling the darkness and lighting up the lives and symbolizes the victory of good over evil. Besides Hindus, Sikhs and Jains and some Buddhists also celebrate Diwali, which falls on November 11 in 2015.

Hinduism, oldest and third largest religion of the world, has about one billion adherents and moksh (liberation) is its ultimate goal. There are about three million Hindus in USA.

NYC Department of Education, with Carmen Farina as the Chancellor, “is the largest school district in the US, serving 1.1 million students in over 1,800 schools”.

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