Hello Everyone!

My name is Jeffrey Tsang, I am a 3rd year undergraduate student studying Human Development & Family Sciences with an option in Human Services. This term will mark my first full year as an intern in the Office of the Dean of Student Life. I specialize in special projects and initiatives the office. This term I will be focusing on the Everyone Matters @ OSU campaign and relaunching it in the Fall. I will also be revamping our College Student Services Administration program website. I will also be developing a Photo Project for First Year Experience next year. I am usually the go to person for project in the office, so I get a lot of exposure to different things.

On campus, I work with University Housing & Dining Services as the Late Night & Leadership Program Assistant. I plan After Dark with a team of enthusiastic individuals from Rec Sports and the Student Events & Activities Center. I also do leadership development workshops for student staff and hall councils. I provide advising for large scale programs/events and risk management.

I am also part of the the NASPA Undergraduate Fellows Program. I had a pleasure and opportunity to go to Orlando, Florida for the annual conference. Look at our group!

It’s Saturday, April 13 and I just wrapped up with the #SAtechOR unconference! More to come about that later… stay tuned!

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 hannah.pynn@oregonstate.edu in the Dean of Student Life office.

April 13th, 2013 is the Sikh holiday of Vaisakhi.

Happy Vaisakhi!



The celebration of Vaisakhi, also called Baisakhi, is the Sikh New Year harvest festival and commemorates the founding of the Sikh community. Baisakhi began as a harvest festival in the India region of Punjab but became a significant Sikh holiday in 1699. Sikh’s have a long history of standing up against tyranny and oppression against humankind, to defend the defenseless.

While celebrating the Vaisakhi harvest festival in 1699 Guru Gobind Singh Sahib, asked if five people would be willing to die for the sake of their religion, to defend humanity by becoming a Saint-Soldier. Guru Gobind Singh Sahib asked this question while holding a sword in his hand and five men stepped forward, expecting to give their lives on the spot. Guru Gobind Singh Sahid baptized these men and began the group of Khalsa.

The Sikh religion commemorates the first five men who comprised the Khalsa with five symbols called five Ks. The five Ks include the Kesh(uncut hair), the Kangha (comb), the Katchera (underwear), the Kara (steel ring), and the Kirpan (sword).

Happy Baisakhi!


Baisakhi is also celebrated by Hindus and Buddhists since the harvest festival began as a Punjab regional holiday and New Year. Hindus celebrate this New Year by bathing in the Ganges River for ritual baths that honor the Goddess Ganga who descended to earth thousands of years ago.

In Kerala, another region in India, the festival is called “Vishu” which means “equal” in Sanskrit and commemorates the vernal equinox. In Assam, another part of India, the festivalis called Bohag Bihu, where the first crops of the season are offered in hopes of peace and prosperity in the coming year.

Buddhists celebrate Vaisakha as a remembrance of the Awakening and Enlightened Passing Away of Buddha Bautama, who was born as the Indian Prince Siddharta.



  1. Dancing the traditional Bhangra, a strenuous dance that tells the story of the agricultural process
  2.  Sikh devotees generally attend the Gurdwara (place of worship) before dawn with flowers and offerings
  3. Processionals through town
  4. Sikh baptisms
  5. New clothes
  6. Fireworks
  7. Feasting and gift-giving

Additional Resources







Published in the Oregon State University Daily Barometer 4/12/2013

Change the World Through Interfaith Relationships

By Hannah Pynn

Religiously diverse individuals getting along is not captivating news. Everyone loves drama and polarized religious opponents happily provide it: Christians scream LGBTQ hate on the quad, atheists write letters to the editor that trivialize all believers, and Socratic Club debates pit scientists and theologians against each other. Although these passionate actions can stimulate our thoughts about religious extremism, do they cultivate relationships across boundaries of difference?

Chris Stedman, the Assistant Humanist Chaplain at Harvard and author of Faitheist, came to OSU recently to lecture on the importance of interfaith relationships and about 30 people showed up. Tonight, 400+ people packed Milam for a Socratic Club debate to see theologians argue with each other. I asked Stedman why more people did not see interfaith relationships as an important cause and he replied, “Interfaith work is not sexy.”

Every major news source features international conflicts that have religious motivations, demonstrating that religious difference often fuels disagreement. Many of us sit in classes with international students from religious states or we have plans to study abroad in countries that have a different religious history than the US. As students today, we will be leaders in global decisions tomorrow. Religious literacy is greatly needed as we enter into the professional world. But is religious literacy enough?

What are we doing to better understand one another’s values, morals, and ethics? Religious rhetoric is a driving force in shaping decisions about marriage equality, gun control, and abortion in our own country. Don’t we need to understand the personal narratives and ethical motivations of our classmates and future business colleagues to fix problems in our world?

We need more interfaith relationships where I can ask my friend Fatemeh why she is motivated by her Muslim identity to blog about women’s rights. Interfaith relationships allow me understand the ethical motivations of my atheist friend Harrison who travels with Patch Adams to spread joy to sick kids. Creating relationships that discuss personal values and spiritual backgrounds binds me together with people who believe very different things from me. It’s more than religious literacy, it’s personal. Relationships help me understand my friends so that I can work alongside them toward social justice.

Diana Eck, founder of the Pluralism Project, says we are living in the most religiously diverse country in history. In this religiously diverse country that values religious freedom, our generation needs to be the leaders in interfaith relationships and understanding. The global problems of clean water, poverty, nuclear weapons, and sustainability are our responsibility. When we understand the importance of these problems through the lenses of our religiously diverse relationships, we can solve these crises better together. Common humanity can heal the world, not just be dramatic news.

After the Socratic Club debates or the yelling Christians in the quad, start conversations about how diverse religious communities can come together to work toward peace and understanding. Listen to others and share your story, you could be the start of an interfaith movement.

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 hannah.pynn@oregonstate.edu in the Dean of Student Life office.

March 31st, 2013 is the Christian and Catholic holiday of Easter.

Eastern Orthodox Christianity celebrates Easter on May 5th, 2013. 

Happy Easter!



The celebration of Easter is a time for Christians to remember the resurrection of Jesus, who Christians believe to be fully God and fully human. According to the New Testament in the Bible, Jesus was put to death and physically raised from the dead three days later. Christians believe this action to be the defining moment in history, that all time had pointed to this moment, and that Jesus’ defeat of death represents new life for all who believe in His divinity. Jesus self-identified as being the Son of the Abrahamic God and claimed that His death reconciled man’s division from God.

Easter is celebrated by western Christianity and Catholicism according to the lunisolar patterns on the Gregorian calendar. The moveable date for Easter was established in 325CE by the First Council of Nicaea to be on the first Sunday after the full moon following the March equinox. Eastern Orthodox Christian traditions are set according to the Julian calendar, which has a 13-day difference from the Gregorian calendar. The precise date of when Jesus rose from the dead is not conclusive by scholars, therefore Easter is celebrated as a moveable feast.












Easter is recognized by Christians as the most important Christian holiday. The 40 days leading up to Easter are observed as Lent, a solemn time of remembrance of Jesus’ sacrifice and love for all people. The week before Easter is called Holy Week that celebrates the last few events of Jesus’ life before He was unjustly killed and rose from the dead. Holy Week recognizes the events of Palm Sunday, Maundy Wednesday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday. Each of these days reflects events recorded in the Christian Bible about the plots to kill Jesus, Jesus’ anticipation and willingness to sacrifice Himself, His betrayal, the trial of Jesus, the torture of Jesus, the unjust killing of Jesus as a common criminal, and the burial of Jesus.

Because of historical connections to the lunisolar calendar, many Easter traditions are derived from Pagan traditions that celebrate the changes during the spring equinox. Eggs and rabbits are fertility symbols that Christians adopted from the Germanic pagan goddess of the dawn, Ēostre. However, many symbols of new life also remind Christians of the open relationship they can have with God as a result of Jesus taking on the punishment that they deserve.

Pope Francis



  1. Attending midnight or sunrise church services
  2. Symbols include: red or colored eggs, lilies, empty tombs, crosses, candles
  3. Music, singing, and dancing to joyfully remember new life because of Jesus
  4. Celebratory processionals
  5. New clothes
  6. Meals shared with family and friends
  7. Lamb served as the main course representing Jesus as the sacrificed innocent lamb

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 hannah.pynn@oregonstate.edu in the Dean of Student Life office.

March 27th, 2013 is the first day of Holi, the Hindu Festival of Colors.


Holi (pronounced HO-LEE) is the Hindu spring festival also called the “Festival of Colors” and is observed primarily in India and Nepal but is celebrated by Indians and Hindus worldwide. Holi is a time that celebrates the beginning of spring and commemorates the vibrant colors that come after winter. The highlight of Holi is when people throw colorful scented powder and perfumed water at each other. Depending on the geographical location, Holi is celebrated anywhere between 2-16 days.

Social boundaries of class, religion, gender, age, and caste are lowered during Holi and everyone enjoys an exciting and joyful atmosphere. The end of the festivities are marked by lighting bonfires to remember the mythological Hindu significance of the holiday. Although Holi has ties to Hindu mythology, it is generally regarded as the least religious festival and has developed as a seasonal holiday that prioritizes bridging social differences.

Happy Holi!


The celebration of Holi is recounted in Hindu sacred texts as a remembrance of several stories. The first is the miraculous story of Prahlada. Prahlada was the son of the king of the Demons, Hiranyakashipu, but Prahlada was a devoted follower of the Hindu god Lord Vishnu. Prahalada’s commitment to Vishnu angered Hiranyakashipu and he attempted to kill his son. In one attempt Prahlada was forced to sit in a fire with his sister Holika, but Holika burned to death and Prahlada survived and was unharmed.

The second story celebrated during Holi is the love play of the divine couple, Radha and Krishna. Radha’s mother suggested he smear any color he wanted on Krishna’s fair complexion to communicate his love for her in a playful manner. Today, young lovers communicate their affection to one another with the same lighthearted gesture during Holi.

The third mythological story of Holi is another deity love play of the Goddess Parvati who tries to win the heart of Lord Shiva. Parvati invoked the help of Kamadava, the Indian cupid-god, who shot a love-arrow on Shiva’s heart. Lord Shiva reacted to the love-arrow by opening his third eye in anger and incinerated Kamadeva. Upon realizing his mistake, Lord Shiva granted Kamadeva immortality for the sake of his sacrifice in dying for love. Today, Holi traditions acknowledge this story by offering sandalwood paste and mango blossoms to Kamadeva to soothe his burns.


  1. Throwing colored powder and water at everyone
  2. Water balloons or water guns full of scented or colored powder
  3. Music, singing, and dancing outside
  4. Sandalwood bonfires
  5. Perform traditional love plays
  6. Collecting firewood in weeks leading up to Holi
  7. Food offerings to the gods
  8. House cleaning for the coming spring

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 hannah.pynn@oregonstate.edu in the Dean of Student Life office.

March 26th, 2013 is the Zoroastrianism holiday Khordad Sal.


Khordad Sal is the Zoroastrian celebration of the birth of Zoroaster, the founder of the Zoroastrianism religion. The holiday is specifically celebrated in India and Iran, immediately following the Persian new year, Noruz. Zoroaster is credited as being the author of the Zoroastrian texts, the Gathas, which are religious liturgical hymns.


The Gathas contain references to Zoroaster’s triumphs over personal obstacles, family history details, and accounts of spreading his teachings. Zoroaster was born into a family of priests and experienced his first illumination from Ahura Mazda, the highest deity of Zoroastrianism, at the age of 30.

Zoroaster’s doctrine was based on human’s mental struggle between truth and lie, for the purpose of sustaining truth, creation, existence, and free will. The central ethics of the faith are based on “Good Words, Good Thoughts, and Good Deeds.”


  1. Parties
  2. Prayers at sacred Fire Temples (fire representing purity, God’s light, and wisdom)
  3. Brightly colored folk art decorate homes called Rangoli
  4. New clothes are worn by everyone
  5. Flowers decorate homes
  6. Sharing a grand feast with family and friends
  7. Reflect on lives and actions
  8. Make resolutions for the future

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 hannah.pynn@oregonstate.edu in the Dean of Student Life office.

March 26th, 2013 is the beginning of Passover/Pesach (beginning at sundown the night before).

Chag sameach (Happy Holiday)


Passover is a seven day (8 days for Jews not in Israel) Jewish holiday that commemorates the liberation of the Jewish people from slavery in ancient Egypt 3,300 years ago. The Bible tells the story of the Jewish people enslaved in Egypt for centuries who were then freed by God through the leadership of the prophet Moses. God inflicted 10 plagues on the Egyptians to demonstrate his holiness and power to the Pharaoh who did not believe in monotheism. The tenth plague was the death of all the first-borns (humans and animals) in Egypt. The Israelites were instructed to mark their homes with the blood of a slaughtered lamb and then to eat the lamb for their evening meal. This act demonstrated ultimate trust in God to pass over Hebrew families and not inflict this plague on their families. Overcome with grief for his own first-born son, the Pharaoh acknowledged God and released the Israelites from slavery.



Tradition states that the Israelites were in such a hurry to leave Egypt that they did not wait for bread dough to rise. To commemorate their flight, only unleavened bread is eaten during Passover, which is also called “The Festival of the Unleavened Bread.” Mazo bread is a symbol of the holiday. Biblical instructions for the original Passover meal are still followed by Jewish tradition today. Messianic Jews and some Christians also observe Passover.

Remembering God’s actions of saving his people is an important tenant of this holiday: “For seven days eat bread made without yeast and on the seventh day hold a festival to the Lord. 7 Eat unleavened bread during those seven days; nothing with yeast in it is to be seen among you, nor shall any yeast be seen anywhere within your borders. 8 On that day tell your son, ‘I do this because of what the Lord did for me when I came out of Egypt.’ 9 This observance will be for you like a sign on your hand and a reminder on your forehead that this law of the Lord is to be on your lips. For the Lord brought you out of Egypt with his mighty hand. 10 You must keep this ordinance at the appointed time year after year.” (Exodus 13:6-10)

Matzo bread


  1. Passover Sedar meal (Click here to read more!)
  2. Burning chametz (leavening ingredients) to remove all of it from the home
  3. Cleaning the whole house, to make the house kosher
  4. Eating lamb for Sedar, all meat of the lamb must be consumed before morning
  5. Baking matzo in the weeks before Passover
  6. Fast of the Firstborn
  7. Sedar is celebrated in the home, rather than the synagogue
  8. Inviting guests to the Sedar meal
  9. Hallel and Nirtzah – songs of praise, thanksgiving, and re-dedication in remembrance of liberation
  10. Sedar traditions are meant to peak the interest of children and engage them in the rituals

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 hannah.pynn@oregonstate.edu in the Dean of Student Life office.

March 24th, 2013 is Palm Sunday, the beginning of Holy Week before Easter.

Palm Sunday



Palm Sunday marks the Sunday before Easter and begins the week-long observance of Holy week in all Christian and Catholic traditions. Palm Sunday is also celebrated in Orthodox Christianity, but is celebrated on April 28th, 2013 in accordance with the Orthodox calendar.

Palm Sunday recognizes the day that Jesus entered into Jerusalem about a week before he was executed. Crowds waved palm branches and laid the branches on the ground to create a path for him into the city. Citizens of Jerusalem celebrated Jesus’ entry by saying, “Hosanna!” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” “Blessed is the king of Israel!”  (John 12:13) These actions and words signified the belief that Jesus would rise to political power as a religious king sent by God. 


This holiday is often celebrated as solemn holiday, marking the days leading up to the betrayal of Jesus, and his execution at the end of the week. But there is hope in remembering that Jesus raised from the dead a week later on Easter. Some celebrate this holiday joyfully, remembering that Jesus was not a political leader, but has risen from the dead and defeated the effects of sin and death.

Although Jesus was expected to rise in political power, Jesus did not use force or political authority. Religious leaders and political powers feared the influence Jesus had on the masses. Jesus quietly rode on a humble donkey into the city still drew crowds of followers, but this marked the beginning of plots to kill Jesus to remove his influence by his radical ideas of God’s love and grace.

  1. Palm Branches in church services
  2. Donkey processionals
  3. Holy water used as a blessing
  4. Recounting the word “Hosanna”
  5. Saving the palm branches to be burned for next year’s Ash Wednesday
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 hannah.pynn@oregonstate.edu 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 hannah.pynn@oregonstate.edu 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 – http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rainn-wilson/bahai-fast-slowly_b_2811057.html

Facts about the 19 Day Fast – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nineteen_Day_Fast

A daily fasting blog – http://nineteendays.wordpress.com/

Brief summary of the fast – http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/bahai/customs/fasting.shtml