Barrington’s 2012-2013 school calendar now lists a host of major religious and cultural holidays. Last week, the schools got some praise from the Hindu community for listing Diwali, which starts on Nov. 13.
Rajan Zed, president of the Universal Society of Hinduism, said in a news release to Patch that "awareness about other religions thus created by such listings would make the Barrington Public Schools’ pupils well-nurtured, well-balanced, and enlightened citizens of tomorrow.”
Zed has asked all school districts in Rhode Island to list Diwali as a religious and cultural holiday. The Smithfield School District also lists Diwali on its calendar and got the same kudo from Zed.
Diwali, the festival of lights, aims at dispelling the darkness and lighting up the lives and symbolizes the victory of good over evil, according to Zed. Hindus worship the goddess of good fortune and beauty, Lakshmi; the god of wisdom and auspiciousness, Ganesh, and mountain, Goverdhan, on this day.
"On this day of forgiveness, festivities, and friendliness," Zed said, "families and friends get together for worship followed by a sumptuous and elaborate feast." It is also considered a harvest festival, Zed said.
The School Committee voted unanimously on Sept. 6 to add all of the major cultural and religious holidays of various faiths to the calendar even if schools remain in session on those days. It added the holidays after getting a complaint about listing Yom Kupper and Rosh Hashanah only as Jewish holiday days.
The School Committee decided that the school calendar could be a learning tool for all students, even if many of these holidays are not days off.