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Hindus would like Diwali holiday in all Hudson County school districts

Only Jersey City schools are closing on the holiday on October 24

Jersey City celebrates Diwali in Exchange Place in 2019. Photo courtesy of the Saraswati Cultural Association of New Jersey.

Hindu residents of Hudson County are asking for a holiday in all its 13 public school districts on October 24, because schools in only one district will close that day for Diwali, their most popular festival.

Schools will close in Jersey City on Diwali day in 2022. However, schools will remain open in Bayonne, East Newark, Guttenberg, Harrison, Hoboken, Hudson County Schools of Technology, Kearny, North Bergen, Secaucus, Union City, Weehawken, and West New York school districts.

Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada on August 18, said that it was “simply not fair” to the Hindu pupils in these 12 school districts of Hudson County. According to Zed, they had to attend classes while schools were closed around other religious days.

Zed is president of the Universal Society of Hinduism. He said it was vital for Hindu families to celebrate Diwali day together at home with their children. He said that closing schools on Diwali would ensure that, and would also display “how respectful and accommodating these schools were to their faith.”

According to Zed, having a holiday on Diwali in all Hudson County school districts would be a step in the positive direction in view of the reported presence of a considerable number of Hindu students. He noted it was important to meet the religious and spiritual needs of Hindu pupils.

“If schools had declared holidays around other religious days, why not Diwali?” Zed asked. “Holidays of all major religions should be honored and no one should be penalized for practicing their religion.”

Rajan Zed.

Zed asked the 12 school districts in Hudson County to seriously look into declaring Diwali as an official holiday, “thus recognizing the intersection of spirituality and education.” He noted that awareness about other religions thus created by such holidays like Diwali would make their students “well-nurtured, well-balanced, and enlightened citizens of tomorrow.”

Zed thanked Superintendent Dr. Norma Fernandez and Board President Gerald Lyons of Jersey City Public Schools, which closed schools for students on Diwali in 2022. He praised her for understanding the concerns of Hindu community.

Hinduism is rich in festivals and religious festival, according to Zed, which are very 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.”

Hinduism is thought to be the oldest and third largest religion of the world with about 1.2 billion adherents. According to Zed, there are about 3 million Hindus in the United States.

For updates on this and other stories, check www.hudsonreporter.com and follow us on Twitter @hudson_reporter. Daniel Israel can be reached at disrael@hudsonreporter.com.

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