New Jersey: Hindu community feels heartbroken as only two public school districts in New Jersey (USA) out of total over 600 have declared Diwali as a school holiday despite all efforts by them.
Rajan Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, in a statement said that it was not fair with Hindu students and their families as they would have to attend school on their most popular festival while schools in the district were closed on festivals of some other communities.
Zed stressed that public school districts needed to revisit their policies as the New Jersey demographics were changing and Hindu populations were continuing to grow. He argued that this unfairness did not send a good signal to the impressionable minds of schoolchildren who would be the leaders of tomorrow.
Zed stated 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”.
Rajan Zed noted that awareness about other religions thus created by such holidays like Diwali would make the New Jersey pupils well-nurtured, well-balanced, and enlightened citizens of tomorrow. It would make the state look good also besides bringing cohesion and unity in the community. Zed urged all school districts across USA to declare Diwali as school holiday.
According to Zed, Diwali, the festival of lights, aims at dispelling the darkness and lighting up the lives and symbolizes the victory of good over evil. Hindus worship goddess of good fortune and beauty Lakshmi, god of wisdom and auspiciousness Ganesh, and mountain Goverdhan on this day. Also on this day, coronation of Lord Ram was held, Lord Hanuman was born, Lord Vishnu returned kingdom to monkey king Bali of Kishkindha, Lord Vishnu and goddess Lakshmi married, Lord Krishna killed demon Narakasura, and ancient king Vikramaditya was crowned. On this day of forgiveness, festivities, and friendliness; families and friends get together for worship followed by a sumptuous and elaborate feast. It is also considered a harvest festival. Besides Hindus, Sikhs and Jains and some Buddhists also celebrate Diwali.
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. Diwali falls on October 23 this year.
New Jersey, one of the most ethnically and religiously diverse states, is most densely populated and second wealthiest state in the country. Various Indian languages viz. Gujarati, Hindi, Telugu, Tamil, Malayalam, are well spoken here.