Hindu leader asks Colorado schools to close for Diwali

Candles lit in celebration of the Hindu holiday of Diwali.

A look at the Denver Public Schools’ holiday-closure calendar shows one religious holiday all students get off regardless of their personal beliefs: Christmas. Otherwise, students who take absences for religious holidays have to miss class.

Rajan Zed, president of the Universal Society of Hinduism, wants that to change in Colorado schools, both public and private, that have large numbers of Hindu students. He wants the schools to close for Diwali, the autumn festival of light.

Hindu students who take off Diwali can have “excused” absences, according to the DPS attendance policy; however, this creates an unfair disadvantage for students who want to participate fully in school and maintain their non-Christian religious traditions, Zed says.

“…It was important for Hindu families to celebrate Diwali day together at home with their children,” reads a press release from Zed. “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,” he wrote.

In March, New York City public schools announced that districtwide students would take two Muslim holidays off: Eid al-Adha and Eid al-Fitr.

New York students already have the Jewish holidays Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur off, as well as the Christian holiday Good Friday.


Photo credit: Swaminathan, Creative Commons, Flickr