Ryan Chiao

As many Yalies are preparing to observe some of the most important holy days of the year, the News spoke with campus religious leaders who reflected on how college has shaped their experience of the holidays. 

Ramadan began over spring break on March 10 and lasts for a month until April 9 this year. Easter Sunday, which commemorates the resurrection of Christ, is this upcoming weekend on March 31. Additionally, Hindu students will celebrate Holi this spring, a celebration of color based on a story of good over evil. The Jewish community will be observing Passover, which remembers the Exodus from Egypt and will take place from April 22 to April 30.

For Ramadan, which commemorates Muhammad’s first revelation, community iftars are being hosted in Dwight Chapel on March 29 and April 5. There are also nightly Taraweeh prayers in Dwight Chapel at 9 p.m. and a campus Eid Prayer on April 10 in the Lanman Center at Payne Whitney Gymnasium. 

Yusuf Rasheed ’24, president of the Muslim Students Association emphasized the importance of Ramadan for Muslims at Yale. 

“It is time of reflection, self-improvement, [and] service to the community. Ramadan is considered as the most important month in the Islamic calendar, and so to be able to participate in it with the vibrant Muslim community at Yale is a blessing we are grateful for,” Rasheed said. 

Like Rasheed, several other Yalies said that these holidays shape their sense of community in college. These students noted that while holidays are usually a time of celebrating with family, in college that changes. 

Maanasa Nandigam ’25, president of the Hindu Students Organization, said that although she has celebrated Holi her whole life, celebrating in college has been different.

Surrounded mostly by people her age, Nandigam said celebrating Holi in college has made her feel more connected to her Hinduism. 

“When you’re at home, religion is something you do because your parents do it,” Nandigam said. “When you’re in college you’re living on your own and you have the ability to choose what you want to invest your time in and what you believe in. Because of that, I’ve gotten closer to Hinduism. This is something that brings me joy and I enjoy sharing it with people who also care about it.”

The Hindu Students Organization will be celebrating Holi on April 20 at the Crescent Lawn. They will also be collaborating with the South Asian Graduate Association, the School of Public Health’s Desi Students Alliance and the School of Management’s South Asia Club.

For Passover, the Slifka Center for Jewish Life will be hosting a large communal seder on the first night which falls on April 22, and then will be coordinating smaller seders hosted by students and staff on the second night. 

Sophie Dauerman ’25, one of the co-presidents of the Hillel Student Board at the Slifka Center, said that in most years she has gone home to celebrate Passover with her family. However, this year she has decided to stay. 

“The warmth and strength of our community makes it feels like a home away from home for me, which is especially important to me during Passover. I’m grateful that I’ll be sharing this special time with our community,” Dauerman said. 

Christian Union Lux, a majority Protestant group, plans to observe Easter, a holiday that celebrates the resurrection of Christ, with many other Christian groups with an inter-ministry worship night on March 31 at Battell Chapel. The event will invite all Christian students to sing worship and holy songs and will include groups such as Yale Students for Christ, Yale Chi Alpha and St. Thomas Moore. 

CU Lux also plans to host a guest pastor Nick Nowalk on Holy Saturday, the Saturday before Easter. He will speak on the topic of the “Hiddenness of God.” 

“When I’m home with my family we don’t have anything special planned for Easter night,” Tiana Luo ’24 said, one of the women’s bible course co-leaders and former board member at Christian Union Lux. “The worship night that we do at Yale carries the joy of Easter. The anticipation of the event carries it through the day and what happens after Holy Week.”

Other students also mentioned the challenges that celebrating these holidays in college can bring. 

Rasheed said that it can be difficult for people when most others around them are not observing the holiday. 

“School also doesn’t slow down and there are just as many exams and assignments as usual. So having these communal events and spaces where Muslim students can come together and be with each other in company is so critical,” Rasheed said.

The Chaplain’s Office, which helps coordinate religious celebrations, is located in Bingham Hall.

Correction, April 2: This article has been corrected to use the term ‘resurrection’ rather than ‘reincarnation’ and a previous version of this article listed an incorrect location for the Hindu Students Organization’s celebration of Holi on April 20.

ADA PERLMAN
Ada Perlman covers religious life at Yale. She is a first year in Pierson College.