New York’s East Williston School District closes schools on Diwali


Kemmannu News Network, 11-05-2018 10:14:43


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New York’s East Williston School District closes schools on Diwali
 
Welcoming East Williston Union Free School District (EWUFSD) in New York declaring holiday on November seven for Diwali, Hindus are urging all public school districts and private-charter-independent schools in New York State to close on their most popular festival Diwali.
 
Distinguished Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada today, said that holiday on Diwali in New York schools would be a step in the positive direction in view of presence of a substantial number of Hindu students at many schools around the state, as it was important to meet the religious and spiritual needs of Hindu pupils.
 
Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, indicated that since it was important for Hindu families to celebrate Diwali day together at home with their children; closing schools on Diwali would ensure that and would also display how respectful and accommodating New York schools were to their faith.
 
If schools had declared other religious holidays, why not Diwali, Rajan Zed asked. Holidays of all major religions should be honored and no one should be penalized for practicing their religion, Zed added.
 
Zed suggested that all New York schools, public-private-charter-independent, to seriously look into declaring Diwali as an official holiday, thus recognizing the intersection of spirituality and education. Zed noted that awareness about other religions thus created by such holidays like Diwali would make New York students well-nurtured, well-balanced, and enlightened citizens of tomorrow.
 
Rajan Zed urged New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, New York State Education Department Board of Regents Chancellor Betty A. Rosa and New York State Commissioner of Education MaryEllen Elia; to work towards adding Diwali as an official holiday in all the 733 public school districts, and persuading the private-charter-independent schools to follow.
 
Zed further says that Hinduism is rich in festivals and religious festivals are very dear and sacred to Hindus. Diwali, the festival of lights, aims at dispelling the darkness and lighting up the lives and symbolizes the victory of good over evil.
 
Jericho School District of New York have also included Diwali holiday in its 2018-2019 calendar. For 2017 in New York State, six school districts declared holiday for students on October 19, which included: East Meadow School District, East Williston Union Free School District, Half Hollow Hills Central School District, Herricks Union Free School District, Hicksville Union Free School District and Syosset Central School District. Mineola Union Free School District announced that no home work or examinations would be given on Diwali, reports suggest.
 
EWUFSD Board of Education unanimously adopted 2018-2019 calendar on a motion moved by President Mark Kamberg, which included schools closed on November seven for Diwali. Dr. Elaine Kanas is Superintendent of EWUFSD, headquartered in Old Westbury, whose tagline is “Learning for a Lifetime”.
 
Hinduism is oldest and third largest religion of the world with about 1.1 billion adherents and moksh (liberation) is its ultimate goal. There are about three million Hindus in USA.

University of Virginia offers “Medical Yoga for Health Professionals” course
 
The University of Virginia in Charlottesville, public research university and tier-one research institution with a nationally renowned health system, is offering “Foundations of Medical Yoga for Health Professionals” in Fall this year.
 
This three-credits course “will provide graduate students, medical students, and practicing health professionals with a foundational understanding of medical yoga to improve health and wellness from a historical, theoretical, and research perspective”, the announcement states.
 
It will explore history of yoga, theories and conceptualizations of medical yoga as a healing modality, review of significant research related to therapeutic yoga, applications of medical yoga for self and clinical care, etc. It will include both didactic and experiential components. Dr. Maureen Mala Cunningham, Clinical Assistant Professor of Nursing, is the instructor.
 
Meanwhile, distinguished Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada today, welcomed University of Virginia’s attempts for application of yoga in medical/clinical fields, calling it a step in the positive direction. Zed urged major universities of the world; including Harvard, Oxford, Stanford, Cambridge, Princeton, UC Berkeley, Yale, Columbia, Toronto, Tokyo, Melbourne, etc.; to explore various benefits yoga offered.
 
Yoga, referred as “a living fossil”, was a mental and physical discipline, for everybody to share and benefit from, whose traces went back to around 2,000 BCE to Indus Valley civilization; Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, noted.
 
Rajan Zed further said that yoga, although introduced and nourished by Hinduism, was a world heritage and liberation powerhouse to be utilized by all. According to Patanjali who codified it in Yoga Sutra, yoga was a methodical effort to attain perfection, through the control of the different elements of human nature, physical and psychical.
 
According to US National Institutes of Health, yoga may help one to feel more relaxed, be more flexible, improve posture, breathe deeply, and get rid of stress. According to a “2016 Yoga in America Study”, about 37 million Americans (which included many celebrities) now practice yoga; and yoga is strongly correlated with having a positive self image.  Yoga was the repository of something basic in the human soul and psyche, Zed added.
 
Highly selective University of Virginia, founded by Thomas Jefferson in 1819, which claims to be nation’s #2 public university, has about 22,800 students and one of its “purposes” is “providing world-class patient care”. It recently established a “pan-university Brain Institute that will address important challenges on the frontiers of understanding, treating, and reverse-engineering the brain”. Teresa A. Sullivan and Frank M. Conner III are President and Visitors Board Rector respectively.

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