Elon University / Today in Elon / The Elon community celebrates Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights

This was the tenth year that the Truitt Center for Religious and Spiritual Life has organized this celebration.

On the evening of Tuesday, October 25, the Richard McBride Gathering Space in the Numen Lumen Pavilion was filled with the sound of music, the smells and tastes of Indian cuisine, and the joyful voices of students, faculty and staff, families and community. members celebrating Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights.

Evan Charboneau ’26 colors in a mandala during Elon’s celebration of the Hindu Diwali Festival of Lights at Numen Lumen on October 25, 2022.

For the tenth consecutive year, the Truitt Center for Elon’s Religious and Spiritual Life held a Diwali celebration, which this year saw record attendance. Attendees gathered to hear an informative presentation by the multi-faith trainees, watch a performance by Surtal, Elon’s Bollywood dance group, enjoy a festive meal and light sparklers on the terrace.

“It is such a privilege and joy to hold meaningful celebrations for members of our diverse university community, and also provide an opportunity to learn about traditions that are important to our students, colleagues and our friends,” said Hillary Zaken, Acting Assistant Dean of Multifaith Engagement.

The Truitt Center for Religious and Spiritual Life is the university’s multi-faith center, with spaces designed to bring together people who hold a diversity of beliefs to engage in learning, understanding, and conversation. Throughout the year, the Truitt Center hosts holiday celebrations, prayer services, festivals, and educational sessions and programs.

Faculty children Ishan, 10 (left) and Sidd Christopher, 8, play with sparklers during Elon’s Diwali celebration on October 25, 2022.

Rece Raju, Acting President of Surtal, said, “We had so much fun and were very honored to be part of the Diwali celebration on campus. This group and this team means so much to me, and participating has helped us all have a deeper connection to our roots and our culture.

Diwali is a five-day Hindu religious festival that symbolizes the victory of light over darkness. The festival takes place on the new moon and marks the start of the Hindu New Year. The campus celebration incorporated traditions of lighting diyas, or clay lamps, and lighting sparklers at night.

Multi-faith interns Ashley Burnett ’24 and Jasmine Walker ’25 helped coordinate the festival as part of their internship. They shared, “Our goal is to bring this tradition to Elon to celebrate and learn about some of the diverse cultures in our community.” And, of course, they added, to have fun too.

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