Bernards School Board to Further Discuss Diwali as Holiday [POLL]

Two more residents ask Board of Education on Monday to consider adding Diwali as a holiday to a future school calendar.

In response to further urging by two parents at Monday's meeting, School Board President Susan Carlsson said a board subcommittee soon will take a closer look at the idea.

"This issue has been referred to the [board] policy committee, that will be discussing it soon," Carlsson said in response to the issue, which had been raised in December when board members had approved the 2014-15 school year calendar.

Schools Superintendent Valerie Goger said at that time that the policy committee could consider the proposal during January, and get back to the full board in late January or in February with a report.

Dozens of residents from Bernards Township's Asian community had attended the Dec. 19 meeting to asked that the first day of the festival of Diwali, an annual holiday that begins each October to November, be added as a day off from school in the 2014-15 calendar.

School officials then said that although the future calendar was approved that night, it could be later amended.

As it stands now, students in the school district can request an excused absence for a religious holiday celebrated by their family.

However, Ashish Haruray, one of the parents to address the board on Monday, said that under the current arrangement, students still will have homework and would miss school activities during the celebration. "Unless there is a holiday, they really wouldn't be able to enjoy time with their family," he said.

Diwali is celebrated over five days, but the first day can be filled with many activities both at home, and at a temple, another speaker said. Not only Hindus, but additional religious groups, including Buddhists and others, celebrate Diwali, he noted.

"Diwali is important to Indians, and all of the Indian community," Deepak Kapadia, a parent who presented the school board with a petition asking that the district recognize Diwali on an upcoming school calendar for 2014-15, said in December.

Goger on Dec. 20 that the petition had been received with 78 signatures.

The next Board of Education meeting is scheduled for Jan. 23, Carlsson said at the end of Monday's meeting. It is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. at the

Lori January 13, 2012 at 10:56 PM
Please..... French, Indian, Chinese, etc. are nationalities not races. Also, do parents have the day off from work so that they can celebrate Bastille Day, Diwali or Chinese New Year with their kids? Having a district-wide day off would be an aggravation for everyone that would now have to find child care for their kids on that day. Come on!!!!
cs January 14, 2012 at 03:07 AM
Important to take things in perspective. As sks stated; ‘According to bill draper(demographer) Nine percent of the people in our town are Indians and the Asian population has grown by 40% in the last five years. Therefore there are enough people in town that celebrate Diwali and Diwali deserves to be recognized as a holiday on the school calendar’. If we can find childcare for Good Friday, Rosh Hashanah, Teacher's convention etc.etc. then certainly one more day wouldn't hurt.
Lori January 14, 2012 at 03:30 PM
Indian is a nationality, Hinduism is a religion. Are the 9% of Indians in our town Hindu though? Indians could be Muslim, Hindu, Christian, Buddhist, Jewish etc. So it would be interesting to know this. I have no problem with any of this if it is indeed what the vast majority of the 500 Indian families want. (Not just 30 Indians out of the 2000 in town).
HBSR January 14, 2012 at 03:41 PM
Lori, I would love for you to tell me which organization gives 10 days off during Christmas and the entire weekend off for Thankshiving? We do adjust although we do not celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas, with a smile on our face embracing other cultural holidays. Neither do we have anything to do with Rosh Hashanah, we still enjoy it with our Jewish friends. For an Indian, the family is complete with the children around, while performing any festive ritual. We parents do take the day off and we would love for our children to do so for us to be able to enjoy the day with relatives and friends. Based on the Parent-student survey done recently every child gets an average of 4-5 hours of homework every single day. My child would not want to miss out on the lessons taught n that amount of homework, besides the after school activities. Remember my dear we are in a home away from home, we would like our children to learn about our culture by being a part of it and participating rather than learning about it from the books.
HBSR January 14, 2012 at 05:51 PM
This might help understand the importance of Diwali for "Indians" around the world. http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/guest-voices/post/in-diwali-celebrations-hindus-assimilate-in-america/2011/10/26/gIQA5gdwIM_blog.html Every year, thousands of Indians including Jains, Hindus, Sikhs celebrate Diwali. On Diwali the Sikhs illuminate their Gurdwaras, Sikh pilgrims take a dip in the sacred tank while reciting Japji Sahib, and then pray at the Golden Temple. The Jains observe fasting and chant the Uttaradhyayan Sutra, which contain the final pravachans of Lord Mahavira, and meditate upon him. In Nepal, Diwali is known as Tihar. Cows are given offerings, in appreciation of the food they have given and agricultural work they have performed; celebrations follow the with lights & lamps & much social activity, also brothers & sisters meet to exchange pleasantries. In Sri Lanka, on this festival this day people wear new clothes and exchange pleasantries.Its a "sweet" day, literally!! India has 29 States, at least 30 different languages and around 2000 dialects. Diwali is celebrated in each and every state in spite of this diversity.


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