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Long Island school district adds Muslim, Hindu holidays to calendar

SYOSSET, N.Y. — The Syosset school board has added several Muslim and Hindu religious holidays to the school calendar.

Muslim holidays Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha along with Hindu holiday Diwali will now be observed by the school district.

The school board unanimously approved petition requests to add the holidays to the calendar during a meeting Monday night.

In doing so, Syosset becomes the first public school district on Long Island to recognize the festivals as official school holidays.

Diwali, also known as the Festival of Lights, is the largest of festivals, celebrated by more than 1 billion Hindus around the world. School officials said adding the sacred festivals to the list of school holidays was a wonderful opportunity to celebrate diversity.

"[We're] hoping that as time goes on, it will be incorporated, not only into the curriculum but into the talks that kids have," said Michael Cohen, Syosset school board president. "Going over to each other's houses and seeing what it is all about. No one will be in school."

The dates of the holidays fluctuate from year to year, so they might not actually impact the school calendar all that much. With the additional holidays added to the calendar, students have a month off for holidays, along with summer vacation.