Mandal Singh Persuades the Gateway School to Recognize Deepavali as a School Holiday

By K S Venkataraman

Mr Mandal Singh

Mandal Singh has been living in this metro area for over fifteen years  after a circuitous route in his career in Sweden, and France. He was born in the pilgrimage town of Gorakhpur in Uttar Pradesh, India, where he completed his master’s degree in botany. After teaching at the Udaipur University for four years he went to the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bangalore. After one year at the IISc, he went to the University of California, Santa Cruz and earned his PhD in biology in 1974.

From 2007 to 2013 he was a faculty member at the Department of Medicine, Dorothy P. & Richard P. Simmons Center for Interstitial Lung Disease, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. Now he is retired.

Mr. Singh, with his wife Madhu, moved to Monroeville in 2010. He became active in the Monroeville Public Library, and got elected to the library governing board, where he served for five years. Believing that he could contribute to the Gateway School System, in 2021, with help from friends and lot of legwork, he was elected to the Gateway School Board in November 2021.

For high quality pre-school childcare in the Plum/Murrysville Area

Hindus, Jains, Buddhists, and Sikhs celebrate Deepavali, the festival of lights, in different contexts. Recently, the New York City Public Schools with one million students declared Deepavali a holiday.

So, in November 2022, Mr. Mandal Singh introduced a resolution at the Gateway School Board meeting to recognize Diwali as a holiday. Mr. Singh was happy when the school board adopted his suggestion at the December 8, 2022 meeting, and passed the resolution declaring Deepavali as a  school holiday starting in the 2023-2024 school year and replacing the Friday-after-Thanksgiving holiday for Deepavali in the Gateway Public School calendar.

Adding a new and additional school holiday for a religious festival is extremely difficult in the US, given our ethnic and religious diversity. However, Mandal Singh’s effort is worthy of our recognition because now the Gateway School System acknowledges Deepavali as a religious festival for students of Indian origin in the school district and let other students know of this important festivals celebrated by Hindus, Buddhists, Jains, and Sikhs in many parts of the world beyond India.


  1. No comments yet.

You must be logged in to post a comment.