Editor's Note: The Board of Education was approached at its Dec. 19 meeting with a petition and public requests to add one day off from school in a future calendar to recognize the holiday of Diwali, which typically falls in October or November. The board, which works three years ahead in setting school calendars, approved the 2014-15 school calendar without adding Diwali as a holiday. However, the matter is scheduled to go before a board subcommittee in January, and could be discussed in public after that time. This week's Moms Talk Q&A also addressed the issue.
To the Editor:
My husband and I have been residents of Basking Ridge for the past 10
years. Our kids are in 8th and 10th grade of Bernards township public
On Dec 19th a request was presented at Bernard’s Board of Education
monthly meeting to consider making Diwali (an Indian holiday) a
holiday on the school calendar. The Board decided to table this issue
in front of the policy committee and based on findings of the
committee, the BOE will determine the next steps.
I urge this publication and its readers to support this request. The
reasons are three-fold:
Firstly, Diwali (or also known as Deepavali), the festival of lights,
is the most important Indian Holiday and so should be recognized in a
township where the Indian American population is significant in number
and growing. Diwali is also important to followers of multiple faiths
including Hinduism, Sikhism, Buddhism and Jainism.
Secondly, Diwali is a national holiday in over 11 countries
(representing over 20 percent of the population of the world). Even in the
United States, the importance of Diwali is gaining recognition, and
now the President of the US is lighting a lamp in the white house on
this day to mark the festival. Closer to home, there is already
precedence of recognition of this holiday in New Jersey. South
Brunswick and Passaic School districts have already begun to recognize
Diwali as a school holiday.
Finally, Bernards Township’s diversity is an asset to all students
growing up in this environment, as it teaches them to respect other
cultures besides their own, and gets them prepared to assimilate
successfully in the global and diverse economy that is going to be
their future. We would like our children (Indian American’s a strong
contingent of the "next generation" of America) to stay home and
celebrate this festive day in the traditional way so that they have a
better understanding of their culture, rather than feel like it’s a
regular school day. As this will give them a better appreciation of
their own culture and putting Diwali on the calendar as a school
Holiday will send a message to the children that their culture is
valued recognized/ respected.
I grew up in India and major holidays of multiple faiths (Hinduism,
Muslims, Sikhs, Jain, Buddhist and Christianity) were national/school
holidays. As a kid it was lot of fun as there were lot of holidays –
we had the same or maybe more number of school days than in the US.
But on a serious note it gave me an appreciation of the diversity in
this world, an understanding of different faith and made me a global
citizen (in the true sense of the word).