'Festival of Lights' brightens Numen Lumen Pavilion
The Elon community gathered Nov. 9 to celebrate the Hindu festival of Diwali in the McBride Gathering Space of the Numen Lumen Pavilion.
By Sarah Collins ‘18
The annual Hindu tradition of Diwali celebrates the triumph of good over evil and light over darkness, and on Monday evening, students, faculty and members of the surrounding community marked the occasion with festivities under twinkling lights in the Truitt Center for Religious and Spiritual Life.
Sophomore Ali McCorkle, a multi-faith engagement intern for the Truitt Center, served as the student coordinator for the holiday. “I attended Elon’s Diwali celebration last year, and it was the event that made me realize I wanted to work in the Truitt Center,” she said. “There’s so much passion and creativity that goes into planning an event like this.”
McCorkle kicked off the evening by sharing the history of Diwali and hosting interactive trivia about the festival. She introduced David and Lucrecia Maclachlan of the New Goloka Temple in Hillsborough, North Carolina, who led guests in a series of Hindu prayers.
Guests were invited to sample a traditional vegetarian Indian buffet and practice the art of Rangoli, which involves laying colored rice in intricate patterns in honor of the holiday.
Following the meal, Elon junior Vashti Shiwmangal spoke about her personal experience with Diwali as a first-generation American.
Sophomore Suria Sarri also shared stories of celebrating Diwali in his home country of Nepal. “I think it’s a great thing that Elon is educating students about Diwali,” Sarri said. “To me, it’s a time for everyone to come together, to enjoy great food and music, and to celebrate with family and friends.”
Junior Oly Zayac has attended Elon’s Diwali celebrations for several years. “This is a cultural experience that many Elon students wouldn’t be exposed to normally,” she said. “It’s a great way to start the holiday season, whatever holiday that might be for you.”
Diana Abrahams, the Truitt Center's multifaith and intern coordinator, emphasized the importance of celebrating Diwali at Elon.
“Celebrating Diwali adds to Elon’s goals of global citizenship,” she said. “It recognizes the religious diversity around us.”