Mineola schools to mark Diwali on calendar

Mineola schools to mark Diwali on calendar

The Hindu holiday of Diwali will be on the Mineola school district’s official calendar next year, but not all students will get out of classes to celebrate.

Michael Nagler, the district superintendent, said school will still be in session on Diwali, but teachers will not administer exams or give assignments on that day to allow students who do not attend classes to celebrate.

“We give education a priority, so we rearrange things, but it would be nice if we could help them learn and balance and know our holidays as well as celebrations in America,”  Divya Narvekar of Albertson, a district parent, said at last Thursday’s school board meeting.

North Shore school districts are considering changes to their calendars to accommodate more religious holidays as their demographic makeups have shifted over the past decade.

Diwali, a festival of light, is the Hindu new year as set by the lunar calendar. It falls on Oct. 19 in 2017, Narvekar said.

The holiday is celebrated worldwide, but many local students attend school on that day anyway and celebrate later, said Maya Narvekar, Divya’s daughter and the junior class president at Mineola High School.

“There are many people in Mineola that it affects, and it usually falls on a weekday because it’s due to a lunar calendar,”  she said  at the school board meeting.

The Herricks and East Williston school districts are considering adding at least three holidays to their calendar, including Diwali, the Chinese Lunar New Year and the Muslim holiday of Eid al Fitr.

The Syosset school district recently added Diwali to its calendar, Newsday reported. The Great Neck school district made the Lunar New Year an official holiday earlier this year.

State law restricts the number of days school districts can close schools, so giving all students a day off for Diwali would be difficult, Nagler said. 

Districts must fit 180 instructional days between Sept. 1 and the high school Regents exams in June.

“We won’t see a big absentee rate because you’re coming to school anyway,” Nagler said. “You’re making that choice, which is a difficult choice.”

Students can also get any assignments they miss online, he said.

Maya and Divya Narvekar said they were happy to have Diwali recognized by asking teachers not to give tests or assignments.

“Every year if I don’t celebrate Diwali and I make Christmas a very big deal in my house, I’m teaching them that, you know what, our culture is not as important,” Divya Narvekar said.

By Neglah Sharma

No posts to display


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here