Diwali is now a day off in Acton/Boxborough schools!
Jodi Tor Dak Shune Keu Na Ase Tobe Ekla Cholo Re. – Tagore
[If no one responds to your call, then go your own way alone]
While I have often walked alone, let me tell you how much more powerful and empowering it is, when you surround yourself with people who believe in your vision. Good people do good work. And they walk with you, making the journey so much better! Its simple.
My ask was also simple : “If we take pride in living in a diverse community, we have to be willing to do the work to support its diverse residents. Diwali should be a day off in schools so we can celebrate joyfully and restfully in our community.“
On Dec. 14th, 2017 I attended the School Committee meeting asking them to recognize Diwali as a holiday and giving the day off. They agreed to list the names of all the religious holidays on the 2nd page of the school calendar but not the day off. To learn more about that process, click here. In 2021, seeing that our district is moving towards Equity, I wrote to the school committee again on November 6th asking them to reconsider giving Diwali a day off. On Dec. 2nd I attended the first reading of the proposed school calendar. On Dec. 16th, 2021 the Acton/Boxborough school committee voted unanimously to not only put Diwali and other religious holidays on the calendar but to give the day off.
The 4 year journey of appealing to the Acton/Boxborough School Committee would have been even longer if I didn’t have the guidance and support of these good people. It is important to me to acknowledge and recognize these amazing humans because they inspire me and I share this in the hope that they may inspire others.
Sunanda Pepalla, my journey began with your nudge! Thank you for showing me the ropes and helping me with the petition back in 2017. For being my sounding board and for showing up then and now! Thank you for your commitment to our towns and your badassery! Brinda Vokkarane, gosh, where do I even begin. From my last minute call for help back in 2017 and how you showed up on that frigid evening and man you SHOWED up with bells and whistles in 2021. Thank you for your outreach to so many groups in town. Archana, you are my OG supporter. You took me to my first town meeting and inspired me to get involved. Thank you for kindness and patience over numerous chai sessions and brainstorming with me. I appreciate your wisdom and our chats more than you know. I mean it when I say this, this is OUR moment and this could NOT have happened without either of you.
My amazing friends Katherine Lee Elizabeth Olson Catherine Conway Lucienne Joan Luke Shana Dumont Garr thank you for writing to the school committee and for tirelessly supporting me in all my causes! Kyra Wilson Cook I appreciate all that you do for our town but I value our friendship even more so! Thank you for asking to include not just the holidays but their names and significance! This means the world to me.
My biggest moment of pride and gratitude came when I saw these three kids speak at the school committee sharing their traditions and asking for a day off so they can restfully enjoy this holiday. It is because of these kids that I kept on going. They give me so much hope. Thank you Rohan, Abhijay and Suravi. You are amazing! I am also so proud of Dia who wrote to the school committee in her own words.
To the 34 people to whom I wrote, shared my journey and asked for help, thank you for allowing me the space in your inbox. For giving me the confidence that I could write to you. There are so many others who wrote to the SC and showed up at the meeting. I don’t know you personally but your support is appreciated. Thank you!
This post is getting so long and I am starting to sound like someone who has just won a pageant! So in true pageant form I thank my father Ram Prakash who is my biggest advocate and to whom this means more than you can ever imagine. I am who I am today because of him. Finally, Gagan Prakash for helping me sort through my thoughts. The biggest job of all You get the best and the worst of me. Love you!
I will end this post by sharing what my dad sent me when I told him that we did it!
“When you work for others all celestial bodies join you in a good cause”.
YOU all are those bodies. We did it, together.