Elon community celebrates Diwali, the Hindu Festival of Lights

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

On the evening of Tuesday, Oct. 25, the Richard McBride Gathering Space in the Numen Lumen Pavilion was filled with the sound of music, the smells and flavors of Indian food, 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 in Numen Lumen on Oct. 25, 2022.

For the tenth year in a row, Elon’s Truitt Center for Religious and Spiritual Life hosted a celebration of Diwali, which this year, boasted record attendance.  Attendees gathered to hear an informative presentation by the Multifaith Interns, 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 a joy to host celebrations that are meaningful to members of our diverse campus community, and to also provide an opportunity to learn about the traditions that are important to our students, our colleagues, and our friends,” said Hillary Zaken, interim assistant dean of Multifaith Engagement.

The Truitt Center for Religious and Spiritual Life is the university’s multifaith 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 kids Ishan, 10, (left) and Sidd Christopher, 8 play with sparklers during Elon’s celebration of Diwali on Oct. 25, 2022.

Rece Raju, the interim president of Surtal said, “We had such a fun time and were so honored to be a part of the campus Diwali celebration. This group and team means so much to me, and participation has helped all of us 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 occurs on the new moon, and marks the start of the Hindu New Year. The campus celebration incorporated the traditions of lighting diyas, or clay lamps, and setting off sparklers into the night.

Multifaith 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 that are present in our community.” And, of course, they added, to also have fun.