Opposing religions coalesce

Allegheny’s unique combinations will spread outside the classroom this weekend as students celebrate two religious holidays that just happen to occur within four days of each other. 
All Saints Day and Diwali, although very different in culture and tradition, will both be recognized on campus. 










All Saints Day, (Nov. 1), a Holy Day of Obligation for Catholics, is an occasion for the Church to commemorate all known and unknown saints and ask for their prayers.

A service for the holiday will be held in Ford Chapel this Sunday at 11:00 a.m.

“Anyone who has lost someone special to them—it could be a pet or a classmate from high school—is invited to name the person they’ve lost and light a candle to commemorate them,” said Dr. Jane Ellen Nickell, College Chaplain and overseer of the Spiritual and Religious Life program at Allegheny.

Around 125 students, practicing both Catholic and Protestant religions, are expected to celebrate the holiday this weekend.

“There is usually a good turnout at [the Chapel’s] weekly services, but Sunday will be an exceptional moment in time for us to remember the people who have meant something to us throughout our lives,” said Kevin Brazda, ’12.

Diwali (Nov. 5) is also known as a “festival of lights” and is celebrated as an official holiday in countries such as India, Trinidad, Malaysia, Nepal, Singapore and Sri Lanka.

“In terms of the history of Diwali, Hindus mainly celebrate it as the return of Shri Ram coming back to his kingdom from a 14-year-long exile after defeating the demon king of Lanka, Ravan,” Biswas said.

Although there is a significantly smaller number of students celebrating Diwali compared to All Saints Day — there are about a dozen active Hindus on campus according to Nickell – the religions nonetheless seem to relate.

“The holidays at the end of the month, that are going into the dark season when it’s getting colder, a lot of them have to do with light,” Nickell said. “They seem to relate to the season of the year.”

Light is used in a more somber way in All Saints Day, such as the lighting of candles on graves, whereas Diwali in India embraces light with lamps and fireworks all over the country.

This Saturday from 5-9:00 p.m. in the CC Lobby, Allegheny’s International Club and Growing Hearts, Growing Minds will be teaming up in the Campus Center to help make “rangolis”: colorful floor art using powder such as colored rice. Rangolis are significant to Diwali tradition, for they were decorative designs used to attract Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth.

There will be Indian food and sweets available at the event and Growing Hearts, Growing Minds will be selling electric lights in honor of the “festival of lights.”

All the proceeds that Growing Hearts, Growing Minds raise from the candles will go straight to Baste, a needy village in India, to help with educational infrastructure.

Despite Allegheny’s unique religious differences, all are welcome to join in the festivities.