Why Halloween is Gradually Becoming Common in India
The festival of Halloween is fast becoming a popular part of India’s modern culture. People wear their scariest costumes, myths about spirits take shape, and of course, kids eat candy like never before. In the midst of all that, though, there’s always a crowd of amused bystanders. These are usually people with bewildered looks struggling to understand why one would walk comfortably on the streets wearing make-up that resembles a monster vomiting Dracula blood.
Well, that’s the beauty of living in a dynamic country such as India. One segment of the population, mainly made up of the upper-middle class, is fast embracing the Halloween culture. The other segment seems to absolutely have no clue on how such a holiday found its way to our calendar in the first place. If anything, the country has to put up with a dozen other festivals in a couple of months. With all these facts in mind it is worth asking – should the entry of Halloween be a cause for concern?
Why Halloween Was Not Common In India Before
If you were born at any time before the year 2000; chances are that you never even had an idea of what Halloween was all about as you grew up. Enter the twenty-first century, the dot-com bubble, American soap operas and the Halloween craze found its way into India’s conservative routines. Well, the world has become a global village and cultures are moving across geographical barriers with ease. The reason why this spooky festival, however, struggled to get its footing in the country is due to the general belief in after-life.
As you know, Pitru Paksha is celebrated at around this time of the year. Given the fact that Pitru Paksha is all about remembering the dead and praying for their after-life, it, therefore, sounds a bit controversial to enjoy the “Day of the Dead” in the name of Halloween a few weeks later. To some ardent believers, Halloween may sound like mocking the spirits of the dead - and that's really not a good thing among conservatives.
But things have changed a lot over time. For instance, India’s middle-class has doubled in size over the last one decade. In fact, as we speak, almost half of our population is categorized as middle class. One common characteristic of people in this income bracket is that they are open to new ideas. They are always out there scouting for new ideas and adventures.
This explains why this festival is mainly popular in highly cosmopolitan regions such as Delhi and Mumbai where the middle-class literary call the shots.
Halloween Is More of a Cultural Day than a Religious One
But there is more to this momentum than the middle-class way of life alone. People have come to realize that Halloween is not only a religious (or Christian) festival as it was thought before. This is more of a cultural festival where people come out to showcase their creativity and ability to add a bit more fun to everyday living.
Another good observation is that the country is fast becoming secularized. Everyone has the right and freedom to celebrate whatever festival they want.
Worth noting, however, is that India’s version of Halloween is slightly different from what is experienced in the west. For instance, things like trick-or-treat are yet to be seen around here (at least not as much as in the Western countries). Can you imagine a group of kids walking across the streets demanding for candy from strangers?
The security situation in most of our streets is hard to predict especially once the sun sets. Secondly, the idea of not talking to strangers has been hammered into our brains by our parents since we were young.
Should We Be Concerned?
The colourful candies, shades of costume and orange pumpkins will soon be flooding out streets under the black of the night as Halloween crusaders do what they do best. Likewise, some restaurants will have their interiors decorated in spooky fashion as well as have their menus revamped. Halloween parties that go well into the wee hours of the night will also be experienced. But in a part of the world that is known for its strict religious practices, embracing the idea of death and evil spirits sounds like a far-fetched concept.
Looking at it differently, though, Halloween is not just about spirits and evil. It’s all about spicing up life with new ideas coated in an atmosphere of scariness. India is accustomed to celebrations such as Diwali (festival of lights) and Holi (festival of colours). Halloween comes across as a combination of the two but with a spice of spookiness.
Getting Kids Involved
There is absolutely nothing wrong with enjoying this festival. So go ahead and get your scariest costume because even if you don’t believe in spirits, this is an awesome way to spend time with your kids. It is also an opportunity for you to discover new stuff in life and break the monotony.
So go ahead and get your kids involved. Let them have fun carving pumpkins. Let them come face to face with the fears enshrined in this occasion. Of course, this will not only excite them but also improve their sense of imagination. And as they adorn their colourful costumes, they will surely have a few neighbours giggling and laughing – and that, of course, is a good thing.
Whichever way you look at it, the future looks great for “Halloweeners” in this part of the world. Let’s just say the festival is taking its baby steps and who knows; maybe soon it will be part of our mainstream culture.
Even if you don’t believe in the ideals of this festival, you can always use it as an excuse to munch on more candy and sneak in some more calories into your body. Likewise, you can use it to get to know your kids better. What are their worst fears? How imaginative or competitive can they get? And so forth.
Until next time, I wish you the best of Halloween
Healthcare Management Professional, Blogger and Writer
Ojaswini is a healthcare management professional for over 10+ years.
Apart from juggling between work & family like all working moms, she loves writing and enjoys her personal time reading too. At the work front, she is currently engaged with Fortis Bloom IVF Centre.