Hindus want Diwali, most popular Hindu holy day, listed on the 2015-2016 Academic Calendar (and beyond) of Vermont’s Middlebury College, which claims to be “a top-tier liberal arts college”.
Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada today, asked that if Middlebury had listed other religious days on the Academic Calendar, why not Diwali, as considerable number of its students now were Hindus.
Middlebury’s 2015-2016 Academic Calendar lists following religious days: Rosh Hashanah (two days), Yom Kippur (two days), Eid al Adha (two days), Christmas Day, Ash Wednesday, Easter, Passover (two days), Orthodox Easter, Ramadan (two days), Eid al-Fitr (two days).
Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, indicated that Middlebury should accommodate the religious needs of Hindu students and employees and show respect to their faith by including Diwali on the Academic Calendar. We did not want our students to be penalized or put at an unnecessary disadvantage for missing tests/examinations/papers, assignments, class work, college events, outside lectures, etc., by taking a day-off to observe Diwali, he added.
Holidays of all major religions should be honored and no one should be penalized for practicing their religion, Rajan Zed stated and added that awareness about other religions thus created by listing religious days like Diwali would make Middlebury students well-nurtured, well-balanced, and enlightened citizens of tomorrow.
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.
Middlebury’s College Handbook says: It is reasonable to consider major religious holidays for the Middlebury student body as a whole to include the following: Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, and the first day of Passover; Good Friday and Easter Sunday; Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha. Examinations should not be scheduled and papers should not be due on any of these holidays. Absences from class on these days because of observance of the religious holiday will be treated as excused absences. In addition, no student will be required to participate in or attend College events such as athletic contests, concerts, or outside lectures on these holidays.
Middlebury College in Middlebury, founded in 1800, which claims to be the “most highly regarded liberal arts college”, has about 2,450 students and offers 850 courses in 44 majors with tuition of $47,418. Ronald D. Liebowitz is the President while Laurie L. Patton is President-Elect.
Hinduism is oldest and third largest religion of the world with about one billion adherents and moksh (liberation) is its ultimate goal. There are about three million Hindus in USA.