This blogpost series is called Holidays and Holy Days to inform our OSU community about significant religious and spiritual observances.  If you know of a significant holiday or holy day coming up, please communicate the information to Hannah Pynn in the Dean of Student Life office.

March 21st, 2013 is Nowrūz, the Iranian/Persian New Year and the most important Zoroastrian holiday.

Sal Mubarak!


The word Nowrūz (pronounced NO-ROOZ) is a compound of two Persian words that mean “new” and “day”. Nowrūz marks the first day of spring and is celebrated on the spring equinox. Nowrūz (also spelled Noruz or Newroz) is a Zoroastrian festival that was invented by Zoroaster, the founder of the Zoroastrian religion. Nowrūz is a 13 day festival that begins on the night of the equinox when families gather to celebrate the sun crossing the equator.

While the Zoroastrian faith was founded in Iran, Nowrūz is also celebrated in parts of India, Central Asia, South Asia, Northwestern China, Crimea, and in the Balkans. Iranians and Parsis around the world celebrate Nowrūz, regardless of their religious backgrounds Nowrūz is also considered a non-religious national holiday in many countries. Baha’i’s also celebrate Nowrūz as the conclusion to their Nineteen Day Fast. It is unclear when this holiday was first celebrated, but records show that it began during the ancient Persian empire between 555-330 BC and the holiday persisted after the establishment of Islam in Iran.


Some believe that actions on Nowrūz affect the rest of the coming year, so if kindness and generosity is demonstrated on Nowrūz, the coming year will be good. Nowrūz also is a time for cleaning the house to make their lives fresh for the new year. Preparations for Nowrūz in Iran begin almost a month in advance, in anticipation of the most important holiday in Iran. Baha’i’s view the holiday as a time for internal spiritual cleansing in addition to physical cleansing. Shia Muslims celebrate Nowrūz as the day when Ali was declared the successor of the prophet.

  1. The Haft-Sin (or the Seven S’s) is a table that displays 7 traditional items that begin with S
    1. Sabza – wheat, barley or lentils that have been allowed to grow for 7 days, symbolizing renewal and are disposed of after the celebration to symbolize taking away the bad influences of the previous year
    2. Sepand – seeds of wild rue burned as incense
    3. Sib – apples (symbolizing beauty and health)
    4. Sekka – newly minted coins (symbolizing wealth)
    5. Sir – garlic cloves (symbolizing medicine)
    6. Serka – vinegar (symbolizing age and patience)
    7. Samanu – a thick, sweet paste made from wheat, oil, water, almonds and walnuts (symbolizing affluence)
    8. Additional items often used to decorate the haft-sin table include:
      1. Candles (Fire)
      2. Mirrors (Sky)
      3. Colored eggs (Fertility)
      4. A holy book
      5. Hyacinth flowers
      6. Dried fruit
      7. Sumac berries
      8. Wine
      9. Sugar/honey/syrup/candy
  2. Wearing new clothes and shoes, then donating the previous year’s clothing to the poor
  3. Exchanging gifts between friends and family
  4. Outdoor picnics to avoid bad luck on the 13th day of Nowrūz
  5. Lighting fire (the holy element of Zoroastrianism) and holding celebrations around the fire, or jumping over bonfires!
  6. Visiting elders of the family first, then making short visits to friends and family
Additional Resources

This blogpost series is called Holidays and Holy Days to inform our OSU community about significant religious and spiritual observances.  If you know of a significant holiday or holy day coming up, please communicate the information to Hannah Pynn in the Dean of Student Life office.

March 2-20th, 2013 is the Nineteen-Day Fast of the Bahá’í faith.


The Nineteen-Day Fast is one of the most important components of the Bahá’í practice for individuals aged 15-70.  The fast lasts from sunrise to sunset and is meant to bring Bahá’í’s closer to God through a physical and spiritual reinvigoration. Bahá’u’lláh, founder of the Bahá’í faith, established the guidelines of the fast to occur during the last month of the Bahá’í 19 month calendar. The fast is an individual obligation with exceptions for the ill, travelers, those outside of the age range of 15-70, pregnant or nursing women, and women who are menstruating (who are required to observe the practice in another way).


Shoghi Effendi, the Guardian of the Bahá’í faith, explains that “It is essentially a period of meditation and prayer, of spiritual recuperation, during which the believer must strive to make the necessary readjustments in his inner life, and to refresh and reinvigorate the spiritual forces latent in his soul. Its significance and purpose are, therefore, fundamentally spiritual in character. Fasting is symbolic, and a reminder of abstinence from selfish and carnal desires.”


Baha’i 19 Month Calendar


  1. The period of fasting begins with the end of the Intercalary Days and ends with the festival of Naw-Ruz (the Bahá’í new year)
  2. Fasting includes abstinence from food, drink and smoking from sunrise to sunset
  3. Bahá’í’s rise early to eat protein, complex carbs, and caffeine to sustain them throughout the day
  4. If someone accidentally eats during fasting hours, it is not considered breaking fast as it is an accident
  5. In regions of high latitude, the times of the fast are fixed by the clock rather than by the sun schedule
  6. Many Bahá’í’s take this time to appreciate the simple things
Additional Resources

Rainn Wilson offers his perspective on his Bahá’í Fasting practice –

Facts about the 19 Day Fast –

A daily fasting blog –

Brief summary of the fast –

Hi my name is Carmen López. This is my second term interning at the Office of the Dean of Student Life. I am currently working on making a video for Veteran Recourses. It has been an arduous process, but it is slowly getting there. I also help with little projects around the office.

This is my third year in Oregon State University and I am double majoring in Human Development and Family Science and Spanish. I just love how welcoming the Spanish professors have been. My favorite classes have been from the foreign languages department :).

I like to get involved on campus and I am part of Movimiento Estudiantil Chican@ de Aztlán (M.E.Ch.A) and the research study at the Hallie and Ford Center. I love to participate in these programs because I love the camaraderie. I participate around campus because I feel like there is so much to learn outside of the classroom. I have also been abroad to Spain to experience a new culture. I loved the food there the Spanish tortilla was delicious! I also got to travel to other parts of Spain and Paris. I would love to go back in the future and I recommend other to travel!

I’m hoping to continue working at the Office of the Dean of Student Life!





This blogpost series is called Holidays and Holy Days to inform our OSU community about significant religious or spiritual observances.  If you know of a significant holiday or holy day coming up, please communicate the information to Hannah Pynn in the Dean of Student Life office.

February 23rd-24th, 2013 is Purim, a Jewish holiday beginning at sundown.


Purim celebrates the Jews’ salvation from Genocide in ancient Persia, as told in the book of Esther.  The holiday is also called “Feast of Lots” reflecting when, according to the story, the prime minister Haman cast lots to determine the date for the genocide of the Jewish people.  Haman hated Jews because after being chosen as prime minister by King Ahasuerus, he wanted everyone to bow to him when passing through the city and a man named Mordecai refused.  Mordecai was the uncle to the newly crowned Queen Esther, who had not yet revealed her Jewish identity to the king.  After Haman had told the king that the Jewish people were a threat and needed to be eliminated, Esther bravely confronted the king and convinced him to free her people.  Purim is more of a national holiday than a religious holiday.


The name of God is not mentioned throughout the entire book of Esther.  Part of the significance of this holiday is celebrating God’s presence and action at all times, even when it is not obvious.  Also, God saving His people through the actions of an orphaned woman, who is the second wife of the king, and who is not a native to the kingdom, demonstrates God’s use of unlikely, insignificant characters.


  1. Reading the story of Esther together
  2. Festive meal
  3. Giving gifts and food to neighbors and friends
  4. Giving to the poor
  5. Baking 3-cornered pastries called “Haman’s ears” or “Haman’s pockets”
  6. Satirical skits (sometimes illustrating the story of Esther)
  7. Dressing up in costumes (sometimes dressing as the characters in the story or other awesome costumes)

Additional Resources

Pictures of awesome Purim celebrations – here

Facts about the holiday –

Wiki –

Esther as a story of feminism in ancient Persia –

Being Jewish means lots of holiday parties –


Hi there,

My name is Meleani Bates, I am an Intern at the Dean of Student Life office. This is my second term with the lovely DOSL team, and I am having a blast. I am a fourth year here at OSU studying Ethnic Studies and Women’s Studies. I also work at ASOSU- the Associated Students of Oregon State University as the Executive Chief of Staff. Working with DOSL has provided me with an amazing opportunity to multiply my opportunities to serve and support the greater OSU community.

Fall term I worked closely with Kim McAloney, Student Life Programs Coordinator, and Mamta Accapadi, Dean of Student Life to develop the WS 430/530- Women of Color in the U.S course that Mamta is teaching this term. This term I am Mamta’s Teaching Assistant for the course. Last term I spent the majority of my time accumulating readings that are currently used in the course this term. Besides developing an APA formatted Bibliography, creating a reading landscape was one of my favorite activities of fall term at DOSL.

I was able to get hands on experience with forming and developing a course reading list. Kim, Mamta and I spent many days researching readings by women of color, reading and scanning our expanding library of literature. At one point, all three of us had merged our libraries together to increase our likelihood of finding remarkable and transformative readings that would tailor to the reading landscape that we began to cultivate.

As I had rapidly progressed through fall term and stumbled upon winter term, I noticed that the anticipation for the start of the Women of Color course had developed. As we are in the 7th week of winter term, I can see all of the hard work that Kim, Mamta and I have put forth come to fruition. This task first started off as a project and WS internship, and has transpired to be a passion of mine.

As a Women’s Studies and Ethnic Studies major I am aware that there are some intersections that can be made between the two disciplines. It is very important to me that there are courses that highlight, embrace and incorporate the lived experiences of women of color in the Women’s Studies pedagogy. Intersectionality theory suggests that there are various ways in which people can interact with society based on their own social location and identity. This is the framework that I live by in the classroom. It is vital that I engage fellow students in the reading, challenge them in their privileged and ethnocentric ideals and deepen the discussions in class. As an aspiring professor, this experience has been challenging and revolutionary in many ways.

This course is taught as an undergraduate and graduate course in Women’s Studies and Ethnic Studies. In the class there are many perspectives that enrich our discussions, and provoke change and affirmations. I value and appreciate difference, in the same regards that I value and appreciate collective ideologies that revolve around feminist ideals. In this class, from my perspective, there seems to be a unifying effort put forth that allows us to merge in a cohesive direction toward social justice and understanding. Can’t wait to see how the rest of the class unfolds. Stay Tuned J

This blogpost series is called Holidays and Holy Days to inform our OSU community about significant religious or spiritual observances.  If you know of a significant holiday or holy day coming up, please communicate the information to Hannah Pynn in the Dean of Student Life office.

February 13th is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent.

Ash Wednesday


Ash Wednesday occurs 46 days before Easter, and the day marks the beginning of Lent which is a 40-day period (excluding 6 Sundays) of prayer and fasting in anticipation of the Easter holiday.  The practice of placing ashes on foreheads in the shape of a cross serves as a reminder of human mortality and a call to repentance during Lent.  This practice of forehead ash is common in Catholic, Anglican, Lutheran, Methodist, and some Baptist denominations.


Ashes were used in ancient times to express mourning or a symbol of expressing sorrow for one’s sins and faults.  Ash Wednesday is used as a ritual to remind Christians of how God created them, and how Christians depend upon the death of Jesus for reconciliation with God.  The ashes are traditionally blessed by a priest or minister and mixed with holy water or olive oil to form a paste.  The tradition of the ashes is not only a reminder of the value of reflection, penance, and prayer, but they also serve as a ritualistic connection with centuries of Christians who have participated in the practice.

In some cases, congregations gather and are given small cards with the option of writing the sins they have committed and sins committed against them on the card as a sign of their sorrow.  The cards are then collected and burned on the alter as a symbol of Jesus’ atoning sacrifice, taking the punishment and burden of sins.


  1. Attending church services
  2. Fasting
  3. Abstinence from meat (on Ash Wednesday, Good Friday, and every Friday during Lent)
  4. Confession/repentance of sins
  5. Shrove Tuesday or Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday) the day before Ash Wednesday
Additional Resources


This blogpost series is called Holidays and Holy Days to inform our OSU community about significant religious or spiritual observances.  If you know of a significant holiday or holy day coming up, please communicate the information to Hannah Pynn in the Dean of Student Life office.

February 10th begins the celebration of the Lunar New Year.

Happy Lunar New Year!


Lunar or Chinese New Year is celebrated in Chinese, Korean, and Vietnamese cultures. It changes dates from year to year because of the difference between the lunar calendar and the Gregorian calendar used in the United States.


The most significant of the Chinese holidays, the Lunar New Year is also the beginning of a two week celebration called “Spring Festival.”  Spring Festival originated as the product of an agrarian Chinese society, symbolizing the living cycle of the planting season.  The Chinese New Year also marks a time to honor deities and ancestorsEach Chinese New Year is represented by 12 creatures of the Chinese Zodiac, 2013 being the Year of the Snake.  Countries that celebrate this holiday include Mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan, Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mauritius, Philippines, and also in Chinatowns all over the world.

Each day of the Spring Festival (15 days) includes specific celebrations and traditions that vary from celebrating deities, lucky family gatherings, hope for the future, the Jade Emperor, and love.

The last day of the Spring Festival is the Lantern Festival that occurs on the first full moon of the Lunar New Year (February 24, 2013 this year).  This festival celebrates positive relationships between people, families, nature, and the higher beings, acknowledging that all of these things bring light to the year.  Thousands of colored lanterns decorate homes, businesses, and streets.  The lighted lanterns bring good fortune and families celebrate by eating glutinous rice balls and spending time together.


  1. Red envelopes full of money bring luck (for children, this is the most exciting part of the holiday)
  2. Gift exchanges among family and friends
  3. Fireworks (this tradition began as early as the Wei Dynasty (220-265 BC)
  4. Mandarin oranges – the most popular and abundant fruit during Chinese New Year – symbolizing luck or fortune
  5. Food eaten during celebrations carry symbolism – noodles (long life), sweets (colored red or black), taro cakes, bakkwa (salty-sweet dried meat), turnip cakes, dumplings (prosperity), leek (calculating), fish, Buddha’s delight (prosperity), melon seed (brings fertility)
  6. Open air markets and fairs sell flowers, toys, clothing for new years gifts and decorations
  7. Shou Sui is the New Year’s Eve family dinner when people stay up until midnight to celebrate the tradition of scaring the mythical beast called “Year” which is afraid of red color, fire, and loud sound.
Red decorations symbolize the luck of the new year!
Happy New Year!
Additional Resources


This month, I have been hosting a book club in the Pride Center on Wednesdays from 12-1 to discuss the book Faitheist by Chris Stedman.  25-year old Stedman tells the story of his journey from a family that he names “irreligious” through coming out as queer in an Evangelical Christian environment, to finally settling into his identity as an atheist humanist that engages in the interfaith movement.  As the current Assistant Humanist Chaplain at Harvard University, Stedman highlights the need for interfaith cooperation in order to establish significant change in our diverse world.

I was drawn to Faitheist for several reasons.  First, I met Chris this last summer and he is a generous, energized, gracious person.  He is an atheist that validates the importance of faith and invites relationships around him to be honest and safe.  Second, the number of Americans who identify as religiously unaffiliated is rising to be as many as 20% of the entire adult population.  How do we recognize this rising population in higher education?  Specifically within student affairs, how do we care for students and help them through this process of atheist identity development?

As an individual who identifies as religious, I recognize that there are certain privileges that I have in our society that “the nones” do not.  In our government, it is the common practice for people to swear into office by placing their hands on a holy book.  In movies and media, it is often a religious individual who sagely gives wise advice to a hero or provides a safe place for refuge.  For many people who identify as atheist, going through the identity development process is incredibly painful and difficult within their social structures.  Atheist student identity development has been paralleled to the marginalization that the LGB community experiences, feeling they are an invisible minority group that often has to hide their identity to protect themselves.

Fatheist prompts conversations of how the religious and the unaffiliated can engage in meaningful relationships through the collaborative action of community service, finding common ground in their desire to express their values through helping others.  As I continue to develop as a student affairs professional, I want to know how to come alongside students who do not share my identities.  I believe that the Faitheist book club is both a place of personal growth for me, as well as a caveat for beginning interfaith conversations on campus that recognize “interfaith” as an inclusive word for all spiritual, humanist, scientific, and religious identities.

Chris Stedman is coming to campus on February 20th to talk about his book and the interfaith youth movement.  Join us in The Valley Library Rotunda on Wednesday, Feb 20th from 6-8pm.  Click here to read a bit more about the event and to find out more about the Faitheist book club.

– Hannah Pynn
Graduate Assistant, Office of the Dean of Student Life
College Student Services Administration Masters Program


Hello fellow Beavers!  My name is Marigold Setsuko Holmes and I am excited to be serving as an Intern for the College Student Service Administration (CSSA) Campus Days 2013 in the Dean of Student Life’s Office.

A bit about myself.  I am Japanese on my mother’s side and a mix of European origins on my father’s side, with roots in Missouri (though I’ve actually never lived there).  But mostly, I identify as a Navy Brat.  My father was in the Navy and I spent most of my childhood on Navy Bases in Japan.  After graduating Nile C. Kinnick High School on Yokosuka Naval Base in Japan, I moved to Seattle to pursue an undergraduate degree at the University of Washington (go Huskies!)

As an undergrad, I got really involved with Residence Life, serving on the Residence Hall Student Association as Hall Rep then National Communications Coordinator for two years.  My senior year, I served as Director of the PACURH Region on the National Board of Residence Halls Student Association.  These experiences paved the way for my passion in Student Affairs.  When I wasn’t busy being involved in the halls, I volunteered with Circle K, played soccer, sang for the University singers and of course, I studied a lot too. I was (and still am) interested in so many things – I dabbled a bit in Architecture, did a lot of experiments in Chemistry courses, enjoyed solving problems in Math, but eventually settled on English as a major, specializing in British Lit (Chaucer and Shakespeare are some men from my past).

When I graduated from the UW, I was fortunate to be hired as an Academic Advisor at my Alma matter.  I advised undeclared majors for two years, before moving to the Economics Department to advise undergraduates Econ majors, all the while collecting more purple and gold in my wardrobe.  Just as my wardrobe was nearing explosion, I was given an opportunity to work in Japan with the Japan-U.S. Educational Commission (Fulbright Program Japan).  I had never heard of this organization or what they did, but was intrigued by an opportunity to live and work in Japan.  When I think about it now, it must have been fate. When I showed up to the interview, my future boss turned out to be a fellow Husky and we hit it off right away.  But more over, I was struck by the Fulbright philosophy and the role that this flagship international exchange program has played in promoting world peace through educational exchange.

I loved every minute of my 16 years (!) with the Commission, but all good things must come to an end, and with a drive to further my skills as a student affairs professional, I moved to Corvallis in September to pursue a Master’s Degree in CSSA.  The first quarter was quite challenging, especially since it had been nearly 20 years since I was last a student.  But I have learned so much and am enjoying every minute of this journey.  I feel very lucky.  Not too many people get to take two years off, to do what they want!

As you may have already guessed from the path that I have chosen in life, I am very passionate about education, especial educational and cultural exchanges and the promotion of mutual understanding among peoples of the world.  After completing my Master’s Degree,

I hope to return to international education.  But in the mean time, I am looking forward to absorbing as much knowledge as I can through the wonderful experiences that the OSU community has to offer.  I am really excited about my internship with the Dean of Student Life’s Office.  I am already learning so much, and best of all, I get to do what I love most, work with people (prospective CSSA candidates, OSU professionals, and fellow students).  It will be a very busy two weeks until Campus Days, but with my fellow CSSAers, I hope to make it the best Campus Days ever, so that every candidate will want to come to OSU, and even more people will apply to the program next year!

P.S.  My purple and gold wardrobe is slowly morphing to orange and black.  Go Beaves!

This blogpost series is called Holidays and Holy Days to inform our OSU community about significant religious or spiritual observances.  If you know of a significant holiday or holy day coming up, please communicate the information to Hannah Pynn in the Dean of Student Life office.

December 8, 2012 celebrates the Buddhist holiday of Bodhi Day.

Happy Bodhi Day!
Happy Bodhi Day! 


The Buddhist holiday Bodhi day celebrates the day that the historic Buddha, Siddartha Gautauma, achieved enlightenment through meditation.  Bodhi is the word for enlightenment in Sanskrit.


Traditions vary in describing the events of how and when Siddhartha Gautama attained enlightenment, but it is general belief that he went through this process while sitting under a Bodhi tree and became the “Awakened One.”  Buddha’s enlightenment has been the central article of the Buddhist faith for 2,500 years.  Around the year 596 BCE, Siddhartha Gautama abandoned his privileged, royal life to search for Dharma (the truth).  For six years, Siddartha Gautama realized that meditation was the way to achieve truth.  After 49 days of unbroken meditation, he discovered the Four Noble Truths and the Noble Eightfold Path, which are the basic elements of all Buddhist practices.

The Bodhi Tree still grows near the banks of the Falgu River and has been surrounded by a temple for over 2,200 years.  This site is the most sacred site of pilgrimage for Buddhists.


  1. Day-long meditation, prayer and study
  2. 30 days, beginning with Bodhi day, Buddhists bring a ficus or sacred fit tree to their house
  3. Decorating with ornaments that represent the Three Jewels: the Buddha, the Dharma (the way of truth), and the Sangha (the community of those seeking enlightenment)
  4. Eating a morning meal of milk and rice, which the Buddha ate to end his fast after his Enlightenment
  5. Light candles for 30 days to represent Buddha’s enlightenment
  6. Decorate with fig leaves or origami fig leaves that represent a heart shape
Additional Resources