With the Brandywine School District in the Wilmington are closing preK-12 schools on Oct. 24 this year for Diwali, some Hindus are urging all of the state’s public school districts and private-charter/independent/parochial schools in Delaware to close on their most popular festival, Diwali.

Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada this week, said that it was simply not fair to Hindu pupils of most of the Delaware schools, as they had to be at school on their most popular festival while there were holidays to commemorate festivals of other religions.

Zed, who is president of Universal Society of Hinduism, stated that holiday on Diwali in Delaware schools 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.

He 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 it would also display how respectful and accommodating Delaware schools were to their faith.

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.

Zed suggested that all Delaware schools seriously look into declaring Diwali as an official holiday, thus recognizing the intersection of spirituality and education. He noted that awareness about “other” religions created by such holidays as Diwali would make Delaware students well-nurtured, well-balanced and enlightened citizens of tomorrow.

Zed urged Delaware Gov. John Carney, Education Secretary Mark A. Holodick and State Board of Education President Whitney Sweeney to work toward adding Diwali as an official holiday in all the state’s public schools, and persuading the private-charter/independent/parochial schools to follow. He also thanked Brandywine School District Superintendent Lincoln Hohler and Board President John Skrobot III for understanding the concerns of Hindu community by keeping schools closed on Diwali.

He said Hinduism is rich in festivals, and religious festivals are very dear and sacred to Hindus. Diwali, the festival of lights, is aimed at dispelling the darkness and lighting up lives, and symbolizes the victory of good over evil. Hinduism is the oldest and third-largest religion of the world, with about 1.2 billion adherents and moksh (liberation) is its ultimate goal. There are about 3 million Hindus in the U.S.