It's spooky season and everyone is way too excited for the house parties that they have scheduled. Halloween is the best day of the year, for the Western part of the world - after Christmas, of course. But what's the hype about in India?
Well, dressing up. Indians love to shop and dress up - the two things that unite us all together. It's also part of the reason Diwali is such a huge festival in India. Diwali or the Festival of Lights is one of the most popular festivals of Hinduism, it symbolizes the spiritual "victory of light over darkness, good over evil and knowledge over ignorance."
Sounds familiar, doesn't it? Maybe a little similar to Halloween?
A lot of people believe that Halloween is the western equivalent of Diwali - the tradition originated with the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain, when people would light bonfires and wear costumes to ward off ghosts. In the eighth century, Pope Gregory III designated November 1 as a time to honor all saints. Soon, All Saints Day incorporated some of the traditions of Samhain. The evening before was known as All Hallows Eve, and later Halloween. Over time, Halloween evolved into a day of activities like trick-or-treating, carving jack-o-lanterns, festive gatherings, donning costumes and eating treats.
But the traditions and formalities of the two holidays are so similar it's hard to ignore. Before Diwali night, people clean, renovate, and decorate their houses and offices. And on Diwali night, people dress up in new clothes or their best outfits, light up diyas inside and outside their house, pray, typically to Lakshmi — the goddess of fertility and prosperity.
After the pooja, there's fireworks, and then a family feast with a whole lot of mithais, and an exchange of gifts between family members and close friends.
Halloween, follows in somewhat the same fashion - people clean the house before the holiday arrives, decorate the house, exchange sweets and take part in other activities like trick or treating. Just like the firecrackers, on Halloween people put up huge bonfires and sing and talk around it, put up lights and celebrate the lives of the dead.
This could just be simple speculation, but the similarities in the dates is also eerie - they fall so close to each other and are celebrated in such a similar way that maybe that's the reason India has now adopted Halloween as a part of its subculture.
Either way, it's interesting to see that some cultures integrate without actually colliding with one another. And celebrating both the holidays is never going to be a let down because both of them are such fun, interesting holidays.