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Diwali -- the next school holiday?

 
 
Reply Mon 13 Jun, 2011 04:16 pm
For many in the Bay Area's rapidly growing Asian Indian population, Diwali is as important as Christmas is to Christians.

Now there is a budding movement to have the Hindu holy day declared a school holiday in Fremont, Sunnyvale and San Jose, cities where Asian Indians comprise a significant portion of the overall enrollment.

While the push for a school holiday is in its infancy, Silicon Valley's Indian community is growing both in numbers and influence. For their part, local school officials say it's important to recognize that diversity -- but adding a new holiday to the school calendar can be a major headache.

One influential leader in the local Hindu community is firmly behind the idea.

"This is our Christmas," said Raj Bhanot, a state tax auditor and a co-founder of the Sunnyvale Hindu Temple, which serves about 20,000 devotees. "We want to experience our holiday at home with our families."

The 2010 Census shows the Indian population in the Bay Area has grown dramatically over the past decade, from about 150,000 in 2000 to about 250,000 last year, with about 118,000 in Santa Clara County alone. Indians now comprise 18 percent of the population in Fremont and 15 percent in Sunnyvale.

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Is there a tipping point for minority representation in holidays? If the school district has more than 15% Jewish students, does this mean it also needs to take off Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur? If it has fewer than 5% black students, does that mean that Martin Luther King Day would no longer count as a holiday?
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Type: Discussion • Score: 10 • Views: 2,701 • Replies: 21
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roger
 
  1  
Reply Mon 13 Jun, 2011 04:19 pm
@joefromchicago,
joefromchicago wrote:


"This is our Christmas," said Raj Bhanot, a state tax auditor and a co-founder of the Sunnyvale Hindu Temple, which serves about 20,000 devotees. "We want to experience our holiday at home with our families."



That's nice, but is there a Christmas holiday in public schools now days? I think there's a winter break and Happy Holidays.
0 Replies
 
talk72000
 
  1  
Reply Mon 13 Jun, 2011 04:40 pm
I am not religious. Happy Diwali to all. All the important building are lighted up.
0 Replies
 
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Mon 13 Jun, 2011 04:53 pm
There's a huge south Asian community here in t.o. . . . they don't close the schools for Diwali, and for Muslim or Jewish holidays, those kids just stay home. Nevertheless, the christian holidays are observed, and the Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Jains, Parsee, etc., they all take those days off. Different provinces, different holidays, too. They shut down Ontario for Easter Monday.
George
 
  1  
Reply Mon 13 Jun, 2011 05:23 pm
@Setanta,
Setanta wrote:
. . . They shut down Ontario for Easter Monday.

How can you tell?


Sorry. Uncalled-for. My bad.
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Mon 13 Jun, 2011 06:31 pm
@George,
No . . . actually, that was a good one . . .

There used to be a gas station (or gas bar, as the wacky Canajuns call 'em) on the corner of Woodbine and the Kingston Road. Five times a day, there was no full service--you either filled your tank yourself, or you waited. Guess why . . .
farmerman
 
  1  
Reply Mon 13 Jun, 2011 08:01 pm
@Setanta,
and in ST John Newfieland they close schools first day of Mr Moose Season
0 Replies
 
Ceili
 
  1  
Reply Tue 14 Jun, 2011 12:18 am
I don't know about a holiday per se, but why can't the kids just take the day off? I grew up with a lot a Ukrainian kids who celebrated the Julian Calendar Christmas. The rest of us were all jealous and tried our best to get adopted for a day.
Are schools denying kids their celebrations?
Mind you, us Canucks do have a fair amount of holidays compared to our neighbours to the south. I know when my husband worked for an American company, they were pissed at how many we had and how people who worked said holidays, always got double-time if they worked and a day in lieu.
joefromchicago
 
  1  
Reply Tue 14 Jun, 2011 08:56 am
@Ceili,
Ceili wrote:

I don't know about a holiday per se, but why can't the kids just take the day off?

What's the point of taking the day off if you can't force everybody else to take the day off too?
0 Replies
 
chai2
 
  1  
Reply Tue 14 Jun, 2011 09:01 am
@Setanta,
Setanta wrote:

(or gas bar, as the wacky Canajuns call 'em)


Gas bar, isn't that where you can get a plate of poutine?
JPB
 
  1  
Reply Tue 14 Jun, 2011 09:03 am
@Setanta,
Setanta wrote:

There's a huge south Asian community here in t.o. . . . they don't close the schools for Diwali, and for Muslim or Jewish holidays, those kids just stay home. Nevertheless, the christian holidays are observed, and the Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Jains, Parsee, etc., they all take those days off. Different provinces, different holidays, too. They shut down Ontario for Easter Monday.


That's what happened where I grew up too, which was a predominately WASP/WASC area. The few jewish kids took the day off. I don't think there were any other religions represented other than some Orthodox Greeks.

Here, our schools close for all the major Jewish holidays. We live in a predominately jewish neighborhood in a school district that's 30% jewish. Our schools would lose whatever minimal state funding we get due to poor absenteeism rates if the schools remained open during jewish holidays.
chai2
 
  1  
Reply Tue 14 Jun, 2011 09:03 am
@Ceili,
Ceili wrote:

I don't know about a holiday per se, but why can't the kids just take the day off?


Not that this happens often, but some kids really take pride in having perfect attendance for the year.

I remember reading something about a kid who didn't take one day off during high school, or during grade school/high school, or something.

0 Replies
 
CalamityJane
 
  1  
Reply Tue 14 Jun, 2011 09:10 am
As an immigrant shouldn't you adapt to the new country of residence, instead of the other way around? Yes, you bring your own culture and your
own language with you, however being citizen of a new country means learning the language, embracing the cultural differences and obeying the
laws, rules and regulation of said new country. Where is this sense of entitlement coming from that U.S. official holidays need amendment to address and observe the religion of every minority group living in the U.S.?
I am saying this being an immigrant myself! If they get Diwali, I want a bloody sauerkraut holiday!
0 Replies
 
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Tue 14 Jun, 2011 09:12 am
@chai2,
It's the tourtière that does that to you . . . poutine is to die for . . . just ask Thomas.
0 Replies
 
Setanta
 
  2  
Reply Tue 14 Jun, 2011 09:33 am
@JPB,
There's quite a mix here, lots of Greek and Russian Orthodox in addition to other flavors of christian. I think the Jewish community has been declining, although there are lots of them still. There are also a ton of Chinese, but their New Year is about the only one you ever hear about in reference to them, and everybody celebrates that. Additionally, Ontario has a Family Day holiday, and there's Victoria Day (more or less equates with Memorial Day in the states) and there's the Federal Civic Holiday--just an extra day off.

In the late 1830s, Upper Canada became Canada West (Ontario) and Lower Canada became Canada East (Québec). Because there was no secular school system in Canada East, when they formed their parliament, Canada West cut a deal with them, agreeing to set up a Catholic School System if Canada East would set up a secular school system for the Protestants. That has come back to bite them in the ass, though. There is now a huge Italian and a huge Portuguese population in the GTA (Greater Toronto Area), and also people from Goa in India, which was formerly a Portuguese colony, so those folks are Catholics, too. During the last provincial election campaign, the conservative candidate, John Tory, took a shot at seeing if that didn't piss people off. But rather than advocate eliminating the Catholic District Schools, which might piss off voters, he advocated setting up separate school systems for all the religious groups. (Sheer insantity.) When he realized he'd put his foot in it, he tried to drop the subject, but the press wouldn't let him. One of the biggest opposition groups were the Jewish groups, who decided to interpret it as segregation, the thin edge of the wedge for isolating people based on their religion. Tory not only lost the election, he even lost his own seat in the Provincial Parliament, which meant he lost his job as the leader of the Tories.

Religion is not something the people here get worked up over, unless someone tries to make an issue of it, then they get pissed.
JPB
 
  1  
Reply Tue 14 Jun, 2011 10:24 am
@Setanta,
Quote:
Religion is not something the people here get worked up over, unless someone tries to make an issue of it, then they get pissed.


Ha! Quite the opposite here. We don't have Christmas parties at our elementary schools - we have winter holiday parties. I used to organize the ones for my kids classes and I always threw a New Year's party to avoid the religious topic altogether.

Parents would sign up to bring snacks/drinks/etc. One year some of the kids got pissed because all the cupcakes had either red or green frosting on them. Mom(s?) later made a stink to the school and a note went home to parents to be more considerate when bringing treats to the holiday parties.

You have no idea how glad I am that I'm no longer involved in these things.
Sturgis
 
  0  
Reply Tue 14 Jun, 2011 10:25 am
@joefromchicago,
Communities change as new people arrive and the new people bring with them their culture and religions. When exactly time the time comes to embrace their culture with a day off is a community decision. I suppose if there's a large enough shift it could even move to Federal level. I mean the United Slates would look silly in 1900 years with a Christmas tree on the Blue House Lawn (trust me, they will one day paint the house blue), if there weren't any Christians in the country or if their numbers were less than 1/10th of 1% of the population.


Of course placing a new day on the calender means another day should be removed.


0 Replies
 
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Tue 14 Jun, 2011 01:16 pm
@JPB,
That definitely sounds like Mom (singular) to me. Even in a large school district, i doubt if the population of complete nutbags is all that large.
brahmin
 
  1  
Reply Sun 19 Jun, 2011 11:29 pm
@Setanta,
i dont think it should be a holiday. We indians are immigrants here. Its for americans to declare it a holiday if they so wish, not for us to demand that it be made a holiday.
joefromchicago
 
  1  
Reply Mon 20 Jun, 2011 11:45 am
@brahmin,
Clearly you're an immigrant. Your American-born children will undoubtedly be far more whiny and unreasonable.
0 Replies
 
 

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