Hindus to push for Diwali holiday as Maryland’s Montgomery Schools launches calendar survey
 Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS); headquartered in Rockville, Maryland; is launching a survey to develop 2019-2020 school year academic calendar, and Diwali is included in possible holidays listed.
 Although the participation in survey is voluntary, yet distinguished Hindu statesman Rajan Zed is urging all the current Hindu MCPS students and their parents and staff members to actively participate in providing the survey feedback (and persuade friends/sympathizers also to do the same), mentioning that it is “very important” for them that the school is closed on Diwali, most popular of Hindu festivals.
 Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, in a statement in Nevada today, also urged all the current Hindu MCPS students and their parents and staff members to list other Hindu festivals also under the question: “Are there any other days that you (or your family) observe…”
 Rajan Zed indicated that Diwali holiday in MCPS would be a step in the positive direction in view of presence of a substantial number of Hindu students in the district; as it was important to meet the religious and spiritual needs of these pupils. Moreover, awareness about other religions thus created by such holidays like Diwali would make all MCPS students well-nurtured, well-balanced, and enlightened citizens of tomorrow.
 Diwali fell on October 19 in 2017 and six New York school districts declared holiday for students on October 19, which included: East Meadow School District, East Williston Union Free School District, Half Hollow Hills Central School District, Herricks Union Free School District, Hicksville Union Free School District and Syosset Central School District. Mineola Union Free School District announced that no home work or examinations would be given on Diwali, reports suggest.
 For 2017 in New Jersey; Glen Rock Public Schools announced closure of schools and offices on Diwali; in West Windsor-Plainsboro Regional School District, schools were closed on October 19; and in Piscataway Township Schools, there was “No School for Students” on Diwali. And in the recent past, Millburn Township Public Schools announced Diwali day off for students for the next three years, reports add.
 In 2017 Unionville-Chadds Ford School District headquartered in Kennett Square in Pennsylvania approved closure of schools on Diwali; while Harvard Public Schools in Massachusetts declared October 19 as “early release day”. Board of Directors of Council Rock School District, headquartered in Newtown (Pennsylvania), in their meeting on February 15, unanimously approved 2018-2019 calendar which includes the addition of Diwali as an official school holiday, reports note.
 Zed further said that it was important for Hindu families to celebrate Diwali day together at home with their children and they expected that MCPS would display how respectful and accommodating it was to their faith by closing schools on Diwali.
 Rajan Zed points out that Hinduism is rich in festivals and religious festivals are very dear and sacred to Hindus. Diwali, the festival of lights, aims at dispelling the darkness and lighting up the lives and symbolizes the victory of good over evil.
 Christmas Eve through January 1, Friday before Easter and Monday after Easter are state-mandated school closures. The survey has been developed in consultation with Hanover Research, a market research firm.
 Hinduism is oldest and third largest religion of the world with about 1.1 billion adherents and moksh (liberation) is its ultimate goal. There are about three million Hindus in USA.
 About 161,936 students from 157 countries speaking 150 languages are reportedly enrolled in 205 schools of award-winning MCPS, 14thlargest school district in USA spread in 497 square miles whose operating budged in FY 2018 was $2.52 billion.  Michael A. Durso is its Board of Education President, while Dr. Jack R. Smith is the Superintendent.
 Utah’s Weber County Board of Commissioners to open with Hindu prayer for 1st time in 168 years
 Weber County Board of Commissioners will start its day in Ogden (Utah, USA) with Hindu mantras on June five, reportedly for the first time since its founding in 1850, containing verses from world’s oldest existing scripture.
 Distinguished Hindu statesman Rajan Zed will deliver the invocation from ancient Sanskrit scriptures before the Board. After Sanskrit delivery, he then will read the English interpretation of the prayers. Sanskrit is considered a sacred language in Hinduism and root language of Indo-European languages.
 Zed, who is the President of Universal Society of Hinduism, will recite from Rig-Veda, the oldest scripture of the world still in common use; besides lines from Upanishads and Bhagavad-Gita (Song of the Lord), both ancient Hindu scriptures. He plans to start and end each prayer with “Om”, the mystical syllable containing the universe, which in Hinduism is used to introduce and conclude religious work.
 Reciting from Brahadaranyakopanishad, Rajan Zed plans to say “Asato ma sad gamaya, Tamaso ma jyotir gamaya, Mrtyor mamrtam gamaya”; which he will then interpret as “Lead us from the unreal to the real, Lead us from darkness to light, and Lead us from death to immortality.” Reciting from Bhagavad-Gita, he proposes to urge Board members and others present to keep the welfare of others always in mind.
 Zed will also meet Board Chair James H. “Jim” Harvey before the invocation.
 Rajan Zed, a global Hindu and interfaith leader, has been bestowed with World Interfaith Leader Award. Zed is Senior Fellow and Religious Advisor to Foundation for Religious Diplomacy, Spiritual Advisor to National Association of Interchurch & Interfaith Families, on the Advisory Board of The Interfaith Peace Project, etc. He has been panelist for “On Faith”, a prestigious interactive conversation on religion produced by The Washington Post; and leads a weekly interfaith panel “Faith Forum” in a Gannett publication for over seven years.
 Hinduism, oldest and third largest religion of the world, has about 1.1 billion adherents and moksh (liberation) is its ultimate goal. There are about three million Hindus in USA.
 Another Hindu Temple approved in Connecticut
 Planning and Zoning Board of the City of Milford in Connecticut has reportedly unanimously approved the proposal to establish a Hindu Temple and Cultural Center in Milford.
 Besides worship services, it also plans to undertake various cultural activities and community events. The proposed Temple building sits on 1.77 acres, reports suggest.
 Meanwhile, distinguished Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada today, commended the efforts of temple leaders and area community towards realizing this temple complex.
 Rajan Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, further said that it was important to pass on Hindu spirituality, concepts and traditions to coming generations amidst so many distractions in the consumerist society and hoped that this temple would help in this direction. Zed stressed that instead of running after materialism; we should focus on inner search and realization of Self and work towards achieving moksh (liberation), which was the goal of Hinduism.
 Milford, whose history goes back to 1639 and which calls itself “A Small City with a Big Heart!” and claims to be a meticulously maintained “town green”, is known for its annual Milford Oyster Festival. Benjamin G. Blake is the Mayor.
 Hinduism, oldest and third largest religion of the world, has about 1.1 billion adherents. There are about three million Hindus in USA.