Hindus want 17 more added to Massachusetts schools’ religious holidays list

Hindus are urging Massachusetts Department of Elementary & Secondary Education (MDESE) to add 17 more Hindu festivals to its “Holiday Observances in Massachusetts” list, in view of substantial number of Hindu students.

Distinguished Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement today, said that Hinduism was rich in festivals and festivals were very dear to Hindu families. Since families wanted to celebrate these festivals together along with their school going children, we did not want our children to be deprived of any privileges at the school because of thus resulting absences on these days.

Rajan Zed, who is president of Universal Society of Hinduism, listed the festivals to be added to this list of religious holidays as: Krishna Janmashtami, Ganesha Chaturthi, Navaratri, Raksha Bandhan, Dussehra, Makar Sankranti, Vasant Panchami, Maha Shivaratri, Holi, Ram Navami, Hanuman Jayanti, Yugadi, Naga Panchami, Guru Purnima, Goverdhan Puja, Pongal and Onam.

MDESE includes only Hindu holy day of Diwali under its “Holiday Observances in Massachusetts” list for the 2015-2016 and 2016-2017 school years.

This list contains total 32 holidays during each of these school years, including statewide legal holidays and some major religious holidays. The announcement on this MDESE webpage states: “State and federal law require schools to make reasonable accommodation to the religious needs of students and employees.”

MDESE, headquartered in Malden, has about 956,000 students and one of its goals is: “Support the social, emotional, and health needs of students and families.” Dr. Mitchell D. Chester is Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education, while Paul Sagan is Chair of Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education.

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