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Hindu Group Makes New Push To Add Diwali To NYC School Holidays

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- A New York City Hindu group on Wednesday made a new push for the city's Department of Education to add the holy day of Diwali to the school holiday calendar.

In a news release, Rajan Zed, president of the Universal Society of Hinduism, said he does not believe it is fair for Hindu pupils and their families to have to go to school on the day of their most popular festival.

Zed said it is important that Hindu families spend Diwali day at home with their children, and children should not be deprived of privileges at school by having to be absent.

The call for the addition of Diwali followed Mayor Bill de Blasio's announcement that the Lunar New Year will be added as an official pubic school holiday.

Parents and legislators had been calling on de Blasio and schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña to add the holiday to the list for some time. An estimated 15 percent of New York City school children celebrate the Lunar New Year.

In March, de Blasio announced the addition of two Muslim holidays -- Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha -- to the 2015-2016 year.

Diwali is the Hindu festival of lights, aimed at dispelling darkness and lighting up lives as a symbol of the victory of good over evil, the release noted. Sikhs, Jains, and some Buddhists also celebrate Diwali, which falls on Nov. 11 this year, the release noted.

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