Why convo on Deepavali eve, Hindu students ask USM

PETALING JAYA: Hindu students of Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) are up in arms over the proposed date for their convocation ceremony, which falls on the day before Deepavali this year.

According to USM’s official website, the university’s Chancellor, The Raja of Perlis, Tuanku Syed Sirajuddin Putra Jamalullail, has agreed for the 54th Convocation ceremony to be held from Oct 24 to Oct 28, 2016. Deepavali falls on October 29 this year.

Affected students told FMT that the decision was unfair and troublesome for them, especially for those who lived outside Penang.

Sangkara Arivalagan, a Communications student set to graduate this year, said the USM management should have taken into consideration all aspects, before deciding on the date.

“It would be troublesome for us Hindus, because the day before the festival, we have to conduct prayers for the departed, and there will also be last minute preparations for the celebration.

“If the date is so close (to the festival), how are we supposed to do all these? What more for people like me, who reside in Johor, and have to shuttle back and forth to Penang. It’s just impossible,” he said.

He assumed that many Hindu graduates would skip the convocation ceremony, as they would prioritize their prayer session on the eve of the festival.

Sangkara then urged USM to postpone the convocation ceremony to November, as it was the year before.

Another student, Shanti Thirumoorthy, said she has lost her mood to attend the convocation.

“If there is a difference of a few days before or after the festival, we can accept it, but this is exactly on the eve of Deepavali. We have lost our mood to attend the convocation,” she said.

She added that complaints by affected students to USM had gone unheeded.

“We have complained to USM, but they have yet to give us any positive feedback. We can’t possibly contact the Chancellor straight, can we?” she asked.

Shanti then begged USM to change the date as she too, as many other students affected by the fixed date, wanted to don graduation robes and accept scrolls on the stage.

FMT understands that following complaints and protests, USM is currently considering a change of date for the convocation ceremony.