Large PA school district to close for Hindu holiday

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A Hindu student’s activism has one of the largest school districts in Pennsylvania recognizing a Hindu holiday in the next school year.

According to a report in Philly Voice, the Council Rock School District in Bucks County will recognize Diwali by closing on Nov. 7. Diwali is reportedly the most important yearly holiday in the Hindu religion.

From the Philly Voice: The school board voted, 7-0, on Thursday to add Diwali to its 2018-19 calendar after student Vir K. Sahu petitioned the district to include it among its other religious holidays.

Sahu, a student at Council Rock High School North, presented an online petition with 450 signatures urging the district to recognize Diwali.

Sahu made two formal presentations before the school board and another in front of the district’s academic standards committee. He argued that the school system recognizes students of some faiths, but not others.

Sahu said the district needed to allow Hindu students to celebrate Diwali without missing school, in order for the district “to be truly inclusive,” according to the Philly Voice.

“I believe the board itself should be recognized for being receptive to having this discussion and ultimately agreeing that having Diwali as a holiday is appropriate,” Sahu wrote in an update to his Change.org petition. 

Diwali falls between the middle of October and the middle of November, according to where it falls on the Hindu lunar calendar.

The report notes: Diwali – the Hindu festival of lights – celebrates good overcoming evil. It marks the return of Rama, the lord of virtue, from exile. According to Hindu legend, Rama was greeted by fireworks.

In celebrating the holiday, Hindu families decorate their homes with candles and colored lights and set off fireworks. They also attend temple services, gather for family meals and exchange gifts.

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