School's Out for Diwali

While Diwali is a holy time for Hindus, the holiday could be reason to celebrate for all school students, if a push to make the holy day an official school holiday is successful

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK

    The Hindu holy day of Diwali, the Hindu equivalent of Christmas to Christians, could soon be beloved by Bay Area public school students of all religions, if some South Bay organizers have their way.

    They'll get the day off from school.

    Adding Diwali to the list of "official" school holidays is on the minds of some folks in San Jose, Fremont and Sunnyvale, all school districts with sizeable populations of Hindu students.

    To recognize that demographic and to celebrate the area's diversity are two main reasons behind Raj Bhanot's push for the school system to recognize Diwali, which generally falls in October or November, the San Jose Mercury News reported.

    "We want to experience our holiday at home with our families," explained Bhanot, a co-founder of the Sunnyvale Hindu Temple, which serves 20,000 worshippers, the newspaper reported. Indians, many of whom are Hindu, comprise 18 percent of the population in Fremont and 15 percent in Sunnyvale, according to census numbers.

    Schools should also consider closing for the Muslim holiday of Ramadan, Vaisakhi for the Siks, and Rosh Hashanah for Jewish students, Bhanot said.

    Getting the schools to close rather than just keeping students out of school will prove to be tricky, however. School calendars are negotiated with the teacher's unions, one school official said. Bhanot has not formally contacted anyone regarding the change, but is encouraged by two school districts in New Jersey, which close for Diwali, he said.