BY ASHTOSH SINGH
Hindus have applauded New York City Council for “Resolution calling upon the New York City Department of Education to establish Diwali as an official holiday for New York City public school students”.
This “Res 1863-2013”, introduced by Council in its July 24 meeting, was referred “to Comm by Council to the Committee on Education”.
Calling it “a step in the right direction”, distinguished Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada (USA) today, said that awareness about other religions thus created by such holidays would make the New York City public school pupils well-nurtured, well-balanced, and enlightened citizens of tomorrow. It would make New York City Department of Education look good also besides bringing cohesion and unity in the community, Zed added.
Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, further said 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. Zed urged all school districts across USA to declare Diwali as school holiday.
According to Rajan Zed, Diwali, the festival of lights, aims at dispelling the darkness and lighting up the lives and symbolizes the victory of good over evil. Hindus worship goddess of good fortune and beauty Lakshmi, god of wisdom and auspiciousness Ganesh, and mountain Goverdhan on this day. Also on this day, coronation of Lord Ram was held, Lord Hanuman was born, Lord Vishnu returned kingdom to monkey king Bali of Kiskindha, Lord Vishnu and goddess Lakshmi married, Lord Krishan killed demon Narakasur, and ancient king Vikramaditya was crowned. On this day of forgiveness, festivities, and friendliness; families and friends get together for worship followed by a sumptuous and elaborate feast. It is also considered a harvest festival.
The New York City Department of Education is the largest system of public schools in USA, serving about 1.1 million students in over 1,700 schools with $24 billion annual budget. Dennis M. Walcott is Chancellor of the Department of Education while Christine C. Quinn is the Speaker of City Council.
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.