This weekend is Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights. As I’ve been preparing for the holiday, I’ve found myself reflecting on the Diwalis of my past. During this contemplation, I thought of a shocking similarity; almost every Diwali I’ve celebrated has been overshadowed by stress about school.
Recently, in the Fairfield Public School district, calendars have been adjusted to recognize the holidays of Eid al-Fitr and Juneteenth(should the school year extend that long). The inclusion of these holidays reflect efforts to have the school calendar represent the multitude of cultures within our district. These efforts, while commendable, bring me to the question:
Why isn’t Diwali a school holiday?
Diwali is celebrated by Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, and Newar Buddhists alike. Although there are numerous Hindu, Sikh, Jain, and Buddhist religious festivals, Diwali is one of the rare few which is celebrated by all.
While there are many different ways of celebrating the bright holiday, most celebrate it at nighttime with good food, music, and, of course, an array of different lights including lamps, fireworks, and sparklers. Due to the significance of lights in the dark, these festivities often continue well into the evening, providing a source of stress and anxiety for the students who celebrate.
Why? Simply put, it’s difficult to enjoy an evening of festivities when you’re worried about the exhaustion of the following morning, coupled with schoolwork and tests. To speak from personal experience, my childhood of Diwalis is marked by fun-filled evenings and sleepy mornings, wracked with frustration and sadness. It can feel very isolating since no one else understands why you’re so tired, and you’re left explaining to teachers why your homework is barely finished and you’re falling asleep in class.
Unlike other holidays, Diwali’s date is determined by the Hindu lunar calendar, meaning its date varies and often falls on a school night. Getting the day after Diwali off would alleviate these stresses and help those who celebrate feel more seen by the Board of Education.
The school district has worked so hard to reflect the array of cultural background’s of their student’s and I think it’s important to keep that growth. As someone who has lived in Fairfield and attended Fairfield Public Schools since kindergarten, I would love to finally feel represented and enjoy a stress-free Diwali and I know I’m not alone in that opinion. So… maybe next year?