Hindus are seeking a public holiday in Delaware on Diwali, the most popular of their festivals, starting in 2022.
Hindu statesman Rajan Zed said it was not fair for the Delaware Hindu community to have to be at work on their most popular festival while there were public holidays on other religious days.
Zed, who is president of the Universal Society of Hinduism, suggested that Delaware government revisit its public holiday policies since Delaware demographics have changed, making it a multicultural society, and Hindu populations are continuing to grow. He urged Gov. John Carney to seriously examine this issue of fairness.
In the State of Delaware, legal holidays during 2020 included Good Friday and Christmas Day.
Zed said it is important for Hindu families to celebrate Diwali together at home and in the temple. Having a public holiday on Diwali would ensure that and would be a step in a positive direction.
He said awareness about other religions thus created by holidays like Diwali would strengthen cohesion and unity in the overall Delaware citizenry and make its people more enlightened citizens.
Zed urged Roman Catholic Diocese of Wilmington Bishop W. Francis Malooly, Philadelphia Area United Methodist Church Bishop Peggy A. Johnson, Delaware Episcopal Bishop Kevin S. Brown and leaders of other religions and denominations active in Delaware to make an interfaith gesture and support Hindu brothers and sisters for the Diwali holiday.
Religious festivals are very dear and sacred to Hindus, he said. Diwali, the festival of lights, aims to dispel darkness and light up lives; it symbolizes the victory of good over evil. In 2022, Diwali falls on Monday, Oct. 24.
Hinduism, the oldest and third-largest religion of the world, has about 1.2 billion adherents, and moksh, or liberation, is its ultimate goal. There are about 3 million Hindus in the United States.