Mineola Union Free School District (MUFSD) in New York state has announced that no home work or examinations will be given on the day of Hindu festival of Diwali, the most popular of their festivals.
MUFSD Superintendent Dr. Michael P. Nagler, in an email today to Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, wrote: “Diwali will be listed on the school calendar as a day of worship. As such no homework or exams will be given on that day. Children that wish to take the day off may do so…”.
Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, welcoming this announcement, in a statement in Nevada today, urged the MUFSD to seriously consider declaring official holiday on Diwali like the neighboring Syosset Central School District and East Meadow School District.
Rajan Zed also urged all the New York state public school districts, private/independent schools and charter schools also to adopt Diwali as an official holiday on their 2017-2018 school year calendars.
Zed pointed out that it would be a positive thing to do in view of presence of a substantial number of Hindu students at schools around the state, as it was important to meet the religious and spiritual needs of these pupils.
Rajan Zed indicated that schools should make efforts to accommodate the religious requirements of Hindu students 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 schools had declared other religious holidays, 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 New York state schools; public, private/independent and charter; to earnestly look into declaring Diwali as an official holiday, recognizing the intersection of spirituality and education. Zed noted that awareness about other religions thus created by such holidays like Diwali would make New York students well-nurtured, well-balanced, and enlightened citizens of tomorrow.
Zed urged New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, New York State Education Department Board of Regents Chancellor Betty A. Rosa and New York State Commissioner of Education MaryEllen Elia; to work towards adding Diwali as an official holiday in all the public school districts, and persuading the private/independent and charter schools to follow.
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 October 19 in 2017.
Mission of MUFSD, which runs five schools, includes inspiring each student to “contribute positively to a global society”. Christine Napolitano is President of its Board of Education.
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.