Hindus are urging closure of all—public, charter, private, parochial, state-operated— schools in Raleigh (North Carolina) 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 Raleigh schools as they had to be at school on their most popular festival, while Raleigh 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 Raleigh 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 holidays around other religious days, 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 all Raleigh 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 Wake County Public School System Superintendent Cathy Quiroz Moore and Board Chair Lindsay Mahaffey to work towards adding Diwali as an official holiday in their Raleigh schools. Zed also sought the support of North Carolina Superintendent of Public Instruction Catherine Truitt, Wake County Board of Commissioners Chair Sig Hutchinson and Raleigh Mayor Mary-Ann Baldwin in persuading public, charter, private, parochial, state-operated schools of Raleigh to declare Diwali as holiday.
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.
Wake County Public School System, which runs the public schools in Raleigh, has reportedly around 161,800 students in 194 schools with an operating budget of $1.94 billion. It claims “Diversity and equity are key components of our strategic plan”, and its tagline is “From here, anything is possible”.
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.