In response to the recent controversy on campus when an elephant was brought to Penn State in honor of the Hindu “festival of color” Holi on March 25, Hindu statesman Rajan Zed published a statement in a press release supporting the decision of the Penn State South Asian Student Association.
Zed, who is president of the Universal Society of Hinduism, said it was a "positive thing to do" for the substantial number of Hindu students at college campuses across the country, as it was important to meet the religious and spiritual needs of these pupils.
Zed also welcomed the use of the elephant for Holi, as elephants play an important role in Hindu religious ceremonies, Zed said in the release.
"Hindus traditionally loved, respected, cared for and looked after the welfare of the elephants and other animals," he said.
Zed said he commended the efforts of the Penn State South Asian Student Association for sustaining Hindu culture and religion at Penn State, and thanked President Eric Barron for supporting the Holi festival.
"Awareness about other religions thus created by organizing festivals like Diwali and Holi on university and college campuses would help make nation’s students well-nurtured, well-balanced and enlightened citizens of tomorrow," he said.
As previously reported by the Daily Collegian, controversy over the elephant was sparked when two Penn State students, Kevin Cali and Andreas Haggiandreou created the petition, which was directed at President Eric Barron, to cease all live animal performances at Penn State.
According to the change.org petition, the elephant was forced to stand for several hours in a confined area without water, fed an unnatural diet of doughnuts and marshmallows and poked with sharp bullhooks in order to bring it closer to the crowd of spectators.
“This is not the first time Penn State has sponsored such abuse,” the petition reads. “These animals are brought here for no educational or other beneficial reason; they are brought here solely for entertainment purposes.”