Hindus are asking all universities of New Zealand to declare Diwali, most popular Hindu holy day, as a university-wide holiday.

Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada today, pointed out that it would be a step in the right direction in view of presence of a substantial number of Hindu students at New Zealand universities, as it was important to meet the religious and spiritual needs of these students.

Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, indicated that universities should make efforts to accommodate the religious requirements of Hindu students and employees and show respect to their faith by not conducting regular business and scheduling classes on Diwali. We did not want our students to be put at an unnecessary disadvantage for missing tests/examinations/papers, assignments, class work, etc., by taking a day-off to observe Diwali.

If universities had declared other religious holidays, why not Diwali, Rajan Zed asked. Holidays of all major religions should be honored and no one should be penalized for practicing their religion, Zed added

Zed urged all New Zealand universities, both public and private, to seriously look into declaring Diwali as a holiday, recognizing the intersection of spirituality and education. Zed noted that awareness about other religions thus created by such holidays like Diwali would make all students well-nurtured, well-balanced, and enlightened citizens of tomorrow.

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. Besides Hindus, Sikhs and Jains and some Buddhists also celebrate Diwali, which falls on November 11 in 2015.

Hinduism is oldest and third largest religion of the world with about one billion adherents and moksh (liberation) is its ultimate goal.