Hindu community petitions for district-wide Diwali holiday


Kelly Wei

Diwali is an annual festival celebrated by Hindus, Sikhs and Jains throughout the world. A group of Coppell ISD parents started a petition advocating for Oct. 19, the day of the festival to be ruled a district-wide holiday.

Tanya Raghu, Enterprise Editor

The festival of Diwali, occurring on Oct. 19, is one of the most sacred days for Hindus, Sikhs and Jains, symbolizing the triumph of light over darkness.


A group of CISD parents have started a petition on change.org with the aim of designating Diwali as an official district holiday.


The petition urges CISD board members and superintendent Brad Hunt to consider the proposal by detailing the significance of the holiday and explaining the issues associated with missing school to celebrate the holiday.


Manju Ruikar is the mother of a CHS junior and presented her viewpoint at Monday night’s board meeting.


“Diwali nurtures family values, [the] bond between the teacher and students, and respecting the guru and well as husband and wife relations and brother and sister relations,” Ruikar said.


UNT associate professor Pankaj Jain is an advocate for the petition and attended Monday night’s CISD school board meeting.


Jain believes a child must experience the festival first handedly to truly appreciate and understand its value. According to Jain, “[the festival is] a living philosophy, it’s a living experience.”


“Asians are the biggest ethnic group within CISD so it’s natural for us to whatever heritage we have and whatever diversity we can promote, it makes sense to be represented at the cultural table, so to speak,” Jain said.


According to CISD School Board President Tracy Fisher, the item is currently not a school board governance issue. Fisher said the district calendar with holiday schedules is recommended to the board by a committee comprised of community stakeholders. These calendars are created so that the community can plan childcare, vacations and other activities with advanced notice.


The petition has gained significant traction, with currently more than 1,300 signatures. According to supporter comments on the website, petitioners send their support from the local area, states across the nation and even India.


“If we exempt it as a religious holiday, then we get behind, if we exempt [it] as a full holiday, we still get behind in like school work,” CHS senior Surya Ramakrishnan said.


It is important to note that according to page 37 the CHS handbook, students are excused from class for religious reasons. For CHS students, these days will not count against their semester exemption status.


“Personally, I don’t think we should have a Diwali holiday but I’m fine celebrating on the weekends like I have been for the past 11 school years of my life,” Ramakrishnan said.