Hindus in Wales, the United Kingdom, have urged all state and independent/private schools to close on October 19 this year to observe Diwali, the most popular festival of the Hindu community.
In a statement released in Nevada, the US, on Wednesday, Hindu statesman Rajan Zed said that it would be a step in the positive direction as it is important to meet the religious and spiritual needs of the Hindu community.
Zed, who is the president of Universal Society of Hinduism, indicated that all schools in Wales should make efforts to accommodate the religious requirements of the Hindu students and show respect to their faith by not conducting regular business and scheduling classes on Diwali.
"We did not want our students to be put at an unnecessary disadvantage for missing tests/examinations/papers, assignments, class work, etc., by taking a day off to observe Diwali. If schools had declared other religious holidays, why not Diwali? Holidays of all major religions should be honoured and no one should be penalised for practising their religion," Zed said in a statement.
Zed urged Welsh First Minister Carwyn Jones and Cabinet Secretary for Education Kirsty Williams to work towards adding Diwali as an official holiday in all the state schools in Wales and persuade independent/private schools to follow.
He suggested that all schools, state as well as independent/private, in Wales should seriously consider declaring Diwali as a holiday to recognise the intersection of spirituality and education. Zed added that awareness about other religions that would be created by such holidays, like Diwali, "would make Wales students well-nurtured, well-balanced, and enlightened citizens of tomorrow."