LONDON, ENGLAND, April 17, 2006: Should Diwali be a public holiday in the UK?
Eddie from BBC Radio London interviewed Jay Lakhani of Vivekananda Centre and director of education for the Hindu Council to ask him his opinion about making Diwali a public holiday in the UK. The interview went something like this:
Jay: "Of course we should make Diwali a public holiday, it reflects that we live in a pluralistic society and that means it is necessary to adopt an inclusivist approach allowing celebration of other world religions through public holidays. Why not have a public bank-holiday for Diwali or Eid?
Eddie: "Why should a Christian nation allow such celebrations?"
Jay: "Because it will be a wonderful Christian gesture of inclusiveness. By adopting this idea of offering acceptability to other religions we produce a template that the rest of the world can adopt. Do not underestimate the role of UK in such matters. The rest of the world looks towards London for guidance on such issues."
Eddie: "What about other groups who may feel marginalized?"
Jay: "We must not forget that next to the Christians the largest group in our society is that of Atheists & Agnostics — the secular lobby, they insist that spirituality is not the monopoly of world religions. The pluralistic Hindu religion would agree with them, Hinduism teaches that one can make spiritual progress in a variety of modes, theistic, non-theistic as well as non-religious mode. Hindus will have no objection if this lobby wanted to celebrate, say, a ‘Human Rights day.’ "
Eddie: "But then we will have so many bank holidays."
My response was, "Perhaps not a bad idea! But, seriously speaking, it is not that we are seeking to increase the number of bank holidays, we are suggesting that we may have to redistribute the public holidays to incorporate ideals of other religious and non-religious groups. It is not that the Hindus are unhappy about public holidays like Easter, the Hindus celebrate the idea that our society designates certain days of the year to allow us to reflect on our spiritual dimension."