At least two dozen New Jersey school districts have either a day off or a shortened schedule to observe an important Hindu holiday in the upcoming year.

For the fall celebration of Diwali, 23 districts statewide will be closed on Monday, Oct. 24, according to Hindu statesman Rajan Zed — who has urged more districts to add the holiday.

Those districts with closures include:

— Bernards

— Bridgewater-Raritan Regional

— Cherry Hill

— Clifton

— East Brunswick

— Edison

— Fair Lawn

— Glen Rock

— Hillsborough

— Hopewell Valley Regional

— Livingston

— Marlboro

— Millburn

— Monroe

— Montgomery

— North Brunswick

— Paramus

— Parsippany-Troy Hills

— Piscataway

— Robbinsville

— Sayreville

— South Brunswick

— West Windsor-Plainsboro Regional

Three other districts have short/single session or early dismissal: Colts Neck, Englewood Cliffs and West Long Branch.

Diwali, Lunar New Year (formerly known as Chinese New Year), and Juneteenth are among holidays that have increasingly been included as a day off on school district calendars around the state.

There is a wide range of religious holidays that are considered by the state Department of Education as excused absences for those who observe them.

They include, but are not limited to, days of importance for Christian, Jewish, Islam, Hindu, Confucian, Daoist, Buddhist, Eastern Orthodox Christian, Wicca, Church of God and Scientology (L. Ron Hubbard’s birthday) faiths.

Which holidays are actually built into a school calendar across the state remains a school board matter.

“Although very much governed by tradition and community expectation, the establishment of the school calendar is a clear board function which is not subject to negotiations,” according to the New Jersey School Board Association.

President of Universal Society of Hinduism, Rajan Zed, said in a written statement “that since it was important for Hindu families to celebrate Diwali day together at home with their children; closing schools on Diwali would ensure that and would also display how respectful and accommodating New Jersey schools were to their faith.”

“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.”

There are 21 Hindu holidays among those recognized by the state.

Earlier this year, the Randolph Board of Education faced backlash for voting to remove a second day from the school calendar for Rosh Hashana.

For the 2022-2023 year, the school district calendar only includes Monday, Sept. 26, the first day of the religious holiday period.

Students who observe the Jewish holiday still can receive an excused absence for Tuesday, Sept. 27, the board has said.

The full “Religious Holidays Permitting Student Absence from School" calendar as of 2022 includes:


— Fast in Honor of the Holy Mother of Lord Jesus (Eastern Orthodox Christian)
— Lammas (Christian and Wicca)
— Transfiguration of the Lord (Eastern Orthodox Christian)
— 1st Muharram (Islamic New Year)
— 1st Muharram (Islam Dawoodi Bohra)
— Ashara Mubaraka (Islam Dawoodi Bohra)
— Onam (Hindu)
— Naga Panchami (Hindu)
— Obon (Buddhist)
— Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Catholic Christian)
— Dormition of the Theotokos (Orthodox Christian)
— Yawm Aashura (Islam Dawoodi Bohra)
— Ulambana (Buddhist)
— Raksha Bandhan (Hindu)
— Krishna Janmashtami (Hindu)

Orthodox Christian Church in Brick (Google Maps)
(Google Maps)

— Ecclesiastical Year begins (Eastern Orthodox Christian)
— Paryushana (Jain)
— Rosh Hashanah (Jewish)
— His Holiness Skaya Trizin's Birthday (Buddhist)
— Feast of Trumpets (Church of God, Philadelphia Church of God)
— Nativity of Mary (Christian)
— Ganesh Chaturthi (Hindu)
—Yom Kippur (Jewish)
— Day of Atonement (Christian, Church of God, Philadelphia Church of God)
— Nativity of the Theotokos (Eastern Orthodox Christian)
— Sukkot (Jewish)
— Feast of Tabernacles (Church of God, Philadelphia Church of God)
— Mabon (Wicca/Pagan)
— The Elevation of the Holy Cross (Eastern Orthodox Christian)
— Chehlum Imam Hussain (Islam Dawoodi Bohra)
— Last Great Day (Church of God, Philadelphia Church of God)
— Sh’mini Atzeret (Jewish)
— Simchat Torah (Jewish)


— Navaratri (Hindu)
— Milad an-Nabi (Islam Dawoodi Bohra)
— Maulid al-Nabi (Islam)
— Installation of the Scriptures as Guru Granth (Sikh)
— Birth of B’ab (Bah’i)
— Urus-Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin (Islam Dawoodi Bohra)

— All Saints’ Day (Christian)
— Samhain-Beltane (Wicca)
— Diwali (Hindu, Jain, Puja, Deepavali and Sikh)
— All Souls’ Day (Christian)
— Goverdhan Puja (Hindu)
— Birth of Baha’u’llah (Baha’i)
— Milad Imam-uz-Zamaan (Islam Dawoodi Bohra)
— The Presentation of the Theotokos to the Temple (Eastern Orthodox Christian)
— Guru Tegh Bahadur Martyrdom (Sikh)
— Day of Covenant (Baha’i)
— Milad Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin (Islam Dawoodi Bohra)
— Ascension of ‘Abdul’l Baha (Baha’i)
— Nativity Fast begins (Eastern Orthodox Christian)
— First Sunday of Advent (Christian)
— Hanukkah (Jewish)

(Gov. Phil Murphy via Twitter)
(Gov. Phil Murphy via Twitter)


— Immaculate Conception (Christian)
— Yule (Wicca and Christian)
— Christmas (Dec. 25) (Christian)
— The Nativity of Christ (Eastern Orthodox Christian)
— Zarathosht Diso (Zoroastrian)

— Gantan-sai (Shinto)
— Mary, Mother of God - Catholic Christian
— Holy Convocation (Church of God and Saints of Christ)
— Birthday of Guru Gobindh Singh Sahib (Sikh)
— Feast of Epiphany (Christian)
— Feast of Theophany (Eastern Orthodox Christian)
— Nativity of Christ (Armenian Orthodox)
— Feast of the Nativity (Eastern Orthodox Christian)
— Bodhi Day (Buddhist)
— Maghi (Sikh)
— Makar Sankranti and Pongal (Hindu)
— World Religion Day (Baha’i)
— Tu B’shvat (Jewish)

Lunar New Year


— Chinese/Lunar New Year (Confucian, Daoist, Buddhist)
— The Presentation of Our Lord to the Temple (Eastern
Orthodox Christian)
— Imbolic-Candlemas (Wicca and Christian)
— Midwinter Ceremonies (Native American)
—Vasant Panchami (Hindu)
— Nirvana Day (Buddhist, Jain)
— Ayyam al Beez (Islam Dawoodi Bohra)
— Jonah’s Passover (Eastern Orthodox Church)
— Urus – Syedna Taher Saifuddin (Islam Dawoodi Bohra)
— Intercalary Days (Baha'i)
— Yawm al-Mab’ath (Islam Dawoodi Bohra)

— Shrove Tuesday (Christian)
— Maha Shivaratri (Hindu)
— Lailat al Miraj (Islam)
— Ash Wednesday (Christian)
— Clean Monday (Eastern Orthodox Christian)
— L. Ron Hubbard’s Birthday (March 13) (Church of Scientology)
— Govinda Dwadashi (Hindu)
— Meena Sankranthi (Hindu)
— Purim (Jewish)
— Holika Dahan (Hindu)
— Holi (Hindu)
— Hola Mohalla (Sikh)
— Lailat al Bara’ah (Islam)
— Ostara (Wicca)
— Naw-Ryz (Baha’i)
— Nowruz (Zoroastrian)
— The Annunciation of the Theotokos (Eastern Orthodox Christian)
— The Annunciation of the Virgin Mary (Christian)
— Khordad Sal (Zoroastrian)



— Souramana Yugadi (Hindu)
— Chandramana Yugadi(Hindu)
— Ramadan (Islam)
— Visakha Puja (Buddhist)
— Buddha’s Birthday/Buddha Day Buddha Day
—  Palm Sunday
— Ramnavami (Hindu)
— Memorial of the Feast of the Lord’s Passover (Church of God and Saints of Christ)
— Holy Thursday (Christian)
— Mahavir Jayanti (Jain)
— Holy Friday (Christian)
—  Passover/Days of Unleavened Bread (Church of God and Saints of Christ)
—  Lord’s Evening Meal (Christian, Jehovah’s Witness)
—  Passover (United Church of God)
—  Passover (Jewish)
— Lazarus Saturday (Eastern Orthodox Christian)
—  Theravadin New Year (Buddhist)
—  First Day of Unleavened Bread (Church of God)
—  Days of Unleavened Bread (Philadelphia Church of God)
—  Easter (Christian)
—  Palm Sunday (Eastern Orthodox Christian)
—  Easter Monday (Christian)
—  First Day of Ridvan (Baha’i)
—  Shahadat – Amirul Mumineen (Islam Dawoodi Bohra)
—  Holy Thursday (Eastern Orthodox Christian)
—  Holy Friday (Eastern Orthodox Christian)
—  The Last Friday of the Great Lent (Eastern Orthodox Church)
—  Last Day of Unleavened Bread (Church of God)
—  Laylatul Qadr (Islam Dawoodi Bohra)
—  Easter (Eastern Orthodox Christian)
—  Milad Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin (Islam Dawoodi Bohra)
—  The 11th Panchen Lama’s Birthday (Buddhist)
—  Bright Monday (Eastern Orthodox Christian)
—  Hanuman Jayanti (Hindu)
— Ninth Day of Ridvan (Baha’i)
—  Laylatul Qadr (Islam)*
—  Aakhir Jumo’a (Islam Dawoodi Bohra)

—  Beltane (Wicca)
— Twelfth Day of Ridvan (Baha’i)
—  Eid al-Fitr (Islam Dawoodi Bohra)
—  Eid al Firt (Islam)*
—  Yom Ha’Azmaut (Jewish)
—  Lag B’Omer (Jewish)
—  Declaration of the Bab (Baha’i)
—  Ascension of Our Lord (Christian)
— Ascension of Baha’u’llah (Baha’i)

Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart in Newark (Google Maps/Canva)
Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart in Newark (Google Maps/Canva)


—  Pentecost (Christian)
—  Shavuot (Jewish)
—  Pentecost (Eastern Orthodox Christian)
—  Martyrdom of Guru Arjan Dev Sahib (Sikh)
—  Fast of the Holy Apostles (Eastern Orthodox Christian)
— Litha (Wicca)

—  Martyrdom of the Bab (Baha’i)
—  Hajj Day (Islam)
—  Tish’a B’Av (Jewish)
— Yawm al-Arafa (Islam Dawoodi Bohra)
—  Eid al-Adha (Islam Dawoodi Bohra)
—  Eid al-Adha (Islam)*
—  Asalha Puja Day (Buddhist)
—  Guru Purnima
—  Eid-e-Ghadeer (Islam Dawoodi Bohra)

Erin Vogt is a reporter and anchor for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach her at

Click here to contact an editor about feedback or a correction for this story.

NJ county fairs make a comeback: Check out the schedule for 2022

A current list of county fairs happening across the Garden State for 2022. From rides, food, animals, and hot air balloons, each county fair has something unique to offer.

(Fairs are listed in geographical order from South NJ to North NJ)

NJ beach tags guide for summer 2022

We're coming up on another summer at the Jersey Shore! Before you get lost in the excitement of sunny days on the sand, we're running down how much seasonal/weekly/daily beach tags will cost you, and the pre-season deals you can still take advantage of!

LOOK: States With the Most New Small Businesses Per Capita

To find the top 20 states with the most new small businesses per capita, Simply Business analyzed the Census Bureau’s Business Formation Statistics from August 2020 to July 2021.

These are the best hiking spots in New Jersey

A trip to New Jersey doesn't have to be all about the beach. Our state has some incredible trails, waterfalls, and lakes to enjoy.

From the Pine Barrens to the Appalachian Trail to the hidden gems of New Jersey, you have plenty of options for a great hike. Hiking is such a great way to spend time outdoors and enjoy nature, plus it's a great workout.

Before you go out on the trails and explore some of our listeners' suggestions, I have some tips on hiking etiquette from the American Hiking Society.

If you are going downhill and run into an uphill hiker, step to the side and give the uphill hiker space. A hiker going uphill has the right of way unless they stop to catch their breath.

Always stay on the trail, you may see side paths, unless they are marked as an official trail, steer clear of them. By going off-trail you may cause damage to the ecosystems around the trail, the plants, and wildlife that live there.

You also do not want to disturb the wildlife you encounter, just keep your distance from the wildlife and continue hiking.

Bicyclists should yield to hikers and horses. Hikers should also yield to horses, but I’m not sure how many horses you will encounter on the trails in New Jersey.
If you are thinking of bringing your dog on your hike, they should be leashed, and make sure to clean up all pet waste.

Lastly, be mindful of the weather, if the trail is too muddy, it's probably best to save your hike for another day.

I asked our listeners for their suggestions of the best hiking spots in New Jersey, check out their suggestions:

More From New Jersey 101.5 FM