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The Battalion

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Hindu’s in Coppell ISD want Diwali to be a district holiday

Two+dancers+perform+duirng+Diwali.
Photo by Courtesy

Two dancers perform duirng Diwali.

Diwali is known as “the festival of lights.” During the November celebration, dlay lamps are placed throughout the house, which has been thoroughly cleaned, to signify the destruction of evil or negativity, as described by the Hindu American Foundation.
The Hindu residents of Coppell Independent School District submitted a request to make the religious festival Diwali a school holiday along with an online petition on change.org with currently 1,741 signatures.
Coppell ISD drafted a standard statement until the Board of Trustees finalize the calendar on Jan. 22 at 7 p.m. Their current statement stated that they allow students to submit a excused absence for missing a religious holiday during the school week and receive one make-up day in return.
Sanam Vaidya, supply chain senior and treasurer of the Hindu Student Association at Texas A&M said that with school they are unable to enjoy the festivities to their full extent, which she believes is unfair. Vaidya said given the large number of Indian students in Coppell ISD they should be given the day off.
“You spend a day with your family, cleaning your house and lighting candles and things like that,” Vaidya said. “But since we have to go to school, it’s all condensed for after school or like the weekend before or after and the volume is not really the same.”
Consulting the district attorney, Coppell ISD presented the lines from the constitution in their statement to justify their current stance of not adding Diwali as a holiday on their most recent calendar, which is subject to change, if the vote is in favor. Following is part of the statement released by Coppell ISD through their Director of Communications Amanda Simpson.
“CISD consulted its attorney about the Diwali holiday request. The district’s attorney responded with a brief that stated, “… the Constitution prohibits government action to promote a particular religion, and a school may not close simply to promote the celebration of a religious holy day.” It also stated, “Instead, a district’s decision to close school on a particular day must be made with a clearly secular purpose.”
The Hindu Student Association president and biological and agricultural engineering senior, Meenu Pillai, said she had a personal experience about school and religious holidays overlapping. This past year, Pillai said her mother wanted to take her to Kerala, India, her hometown, for Diwali and show her the festivities that occur, which would have taken at least a week. Since there was no way she could get off of school for that long, she wasn’t able to go.
Pillai said here in the U.S. there are so many religions that do not get the same consideration as others and that it’s time they do, as it will bring equal opportunity for all.
“America is [at] a boiling point so you do have a lot of different cultures and a lot of religions coming into play,” Pillai said. “But at that point it’s also bringing in a community. You’re embracing all the different cultures that are here in the U.S. versus just recognizing some … we’d also bring about equal opportunity to everyone.”
 

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  • Diwali celebrates cleaning the house of evil using dlay lamps.

    Photo by Courtesy
  • Diwali is known as ‘the festival of lights”.

    Photo by Courtesy
  • The Diwali celebration in November.

    Photo by Courtesy
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