Welcoming 23 New Jersey public school districts closing schools on Diwali this year, Hindus are urging all public school districts and private-charter-independent schools in the state to close on their most popular festival, Diwali.
Hindu statesman Rajan Zed said it was simply not fair to Hindu pupils of most New Jersey schools, as they had to be at school on their most popular festival while there were holidays to commemorate festivals of other religions, according to a prepared statement.
Diwali falls on Oct. 24 this year, and 2022-23 calendars of Bernards Township, Bridgewater-Raritan Regional, Central Bucks, Cherry Hill, Clifton, East Brunswick, Edison, Fair Lawn, Glen Rock, Hillsborough;
Hopewell Valley Regional, Livingston, Marlboro, Millburn, Monroe Township, Montgomery, Paramus, Parsippany-Troy Hills, Piscataway, Robbinsville; and
Sayreville, South Brunswick, West Windsor-Plainsboro Regional schools will be closed for students.
Moreover, Colts Neck Township, Englewood Cliffs and West Long Branch schools are offering either a short session day, a single session, or early dismissal, respectively.
Zed, who is president of Universal Society of Hinduism, said making Diwali a school holiday in New Jersey would be a step in the positive direction in view of the reported 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 Hindu pupils, according to the statement.
Zed indicated that since it was important 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 New Jersey schools were to their faith, according to the statement.
If schools had declared other religious holidays, why not Diwali, Zed asked in the statement. Holidays of all major religions should be honored and no one should be penalized for practicing their religion, Zed added.
The list of religious holidays permitting student absence from school by the New Jersey State Board of Education contains 21 Hindu holidays: Guru Purnima, Onam, Naga Panchami, Raksha Bandhan, Krishna Janmashtami, Ganesh Chaturthi, Navaratri, Diwali, Goverdhan Puja, Makar Sankranti, Pongal, Vasant Panchami, Maha Shivaratri, Govinda Dwadashi, Meena Sankranthi, Holika Dahan, Holi, Souramana Yugadi, Chandramana Yugadi, Ramnavami, Hanuman Jayanti. Onam is listed here for 12 days, Navaratri for nine, and Diwali for five, according to the statement.