Hindus are urging Texas’ all Houston area independent school districts; and private/independent, charter, parochial schools; to close on their most popular festival Diwali.
Besides the largest Houston Independent School District (ISD), they are seeking Diwali holiday in 24 other area ISDs (Aldine, Alief, Channelview, Clear Creek, Conroe, Crosby, Deer Park, Fort Bend, Galena Park, Galveston, Goose Creek, Huffman, Humble, Katy, Klein, La Porte, Lamar, New Caney, North Forest, Pasadena, Sheldon, Spring, Spring Branch, Tomball); and few hundred private/independent, charter, parochial schools. Currently, only Cypress-Fairbanks ISD in the area has announced a holiday for students on October 24, the day of Diwali in 2022.
Distinguished Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada today, said that it was simply not fair with Hindu pupils in Houston 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 Houston 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 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 Houston 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 Houston ISD Superintendent Millard House II, Trustees President Judith Cruz; and superintendents and trustees presidents of other area 24 ISDs to work towards adding Diwali as an official holiday in their schools, and persuading the area private/independent, charter, parochial schools to follow. He also sought the wholehearted support of Texas Commissioner of Education Mike Morath, Texas Board of Education Chair Keven Ellis, Texas Private Schools Association Executive Director Laura Colangelo, Texas Private School Accreditation Commission, Harris County Education Superintendent James Colbert Jr., Roman Catholic Archbishop of Galveston-Houston Daniel Cardinal DiNardo, on this issue.
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.
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.