By Laura Hayes, Senior Community Reporter
NORTHBOROUGH – A local eighth-grader is asking the Northborough School Committee to include Diwali as an observed holiday.
“The Town of Northborough observes numerous holidays — Christmas, Thanksgiving, Columbus Day or Indigenous People’s Day, Yom Kippur, Rosh Hashanah and many more,” said Ishita Urs during a Nov. 3 Northborough School Committee meeting. “In order for us to be a truly inclusive community, Diwali should be included in the list of holidays that are observed.”
Urs wrote a letter to the School Committee, which she read on Nov. 3. She has resided in Northborough for the past seven years with her family.
“My family and I practice Hinduism, which is more than a religion; it’s a way of life and code of behavior,” Urs said.
She said her family believes that all beings in creation have a sense of faith, duty and morality.
“We are connected to each other through our different cultures, and they should be highly valued,” Urs said.
Diwali, which is also known as the Festival of Lights, is important to the culture and religion of Hinduism, celebrating the return of Rama after his exile and victory over Ravana, Urs said.
“Diwali symbolizes the universal message that good always prevails over evil,” Urs said.
There’s a large Hindu population in Worcester County, she said, adding that other school districts, including the Westborough Public Schools, observe Diwali.
“Considering the two towns are situated exceptionally close to each other, our school district should also consider adopting an inclusive approach for diversity to flourish,” Urs said.
She said such an approach could be accomplished by adding Diwali to the list of no-school days.
“This is a wonderful opportunity for Northborough to be one of the few towns that have declared Diwali a holiday,” Urs said. “It is crucial for our community to be inclusive and accepting of others’ beliefs. Awareness of others’ culture can help one appreciate and value diversity.”
School Committee Chair Lauren Bailey-Jones said this letter and presentation came at a great time because the school calendar will be discussed at the next joint school committee meeting.
That meeting is scheduled to take place on Wednesday, Dec. 15.