Hindus are still pushing for introducing Diwali as a school holiday in New Jersey’s Millburn Township School District (MTSD) despite it receiving only 7.5% of the votes in the recent Survey.
Distinguished Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada today, said that being in minority did not mean that our kids did not have the same rights to celebrate their most popular festival with their families like their fellow students with higher numbers.
Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, pointed out that 7.5% was still a considerable number, and urged the MTSD Board of Education Program Committee to include Diwali as a holiday in the 2015-2016, 2016-2017 and 2017-2018 school years when they draft calendars this week.
Rajan Zed requested the MTSD Board of Education to consider Diwali holiday favorably in its November 24 meeting when the draft calendars would be presented and then adopt Diwali as a school holiday in the calendars of next three years in its December 15 meeting. Zed thanked the efforts of Diwali Petition Leader Padmaja Chinta assisted by Subadhra Vardharaj, Yashica Shah, Aarti Bajaj, Deepa Krishnan, and Tithi Majumdar.
Zed stressed that Hindu community felt left out in New Jersey as despite fast changing state demographics and continuing growth of Hindu populations, only two public school districts had reportedly declared Diwali as a school holiday. He noted that their ultimate goal was to introduce Diwali as holiday in all the over 600 school districts of this one of the most ethnically and religiously diverse states, and the community would make all out efforts for it. New Jersey should recognize diversity of its communities as Gujarati, Hindi, Telugu, Tamil, Malayalam, etc., are spoken in its various parts.
Rajan Zed indicated that it was not fair with Hindu pupils and their families as they had to attend school on their most popular festival while many schools in the state were closed on holy days of some other communities. This unfairness did not send a good signal to the impressionable minds of schoolchildren who would be the leaders of tomorrow; Zed said and added that New Jersey public school districts needed to urgently revisit their policies on this issue.
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.
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. 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.
MTSD, known for academic excellence whose 99% of graduating seniors reportedly attend four-year colleges, has about 5,000 pupils and includes Millburn High, a national Blue Ribbon School. Jeffrey Waters and James A. Crisfield are Board President and Superintendent respectively.
Township of Millburn, incorporated in 1857, has reportedly one of the highest annual property tax bills in the state. Robert J. Tillotson, W. Theodore Bourke and Timothy P. Gordon are Mayor, Deputy Mayor and Business Administrator respectively of Millburn, whose notable residents included actress Anne Hathaway, actor John C. McGinley and hockey player Brian Rolston.