Today when I got back home from work, noticed a different kind of environment in apartment. Lot of noise, while I was still trying to figure out what it was, I saw a group of children dressed differently. I chose to take stairs and it didn’t take me lot of time on my way to figure out what it was all about. Those children were dressed in Halloween dress and noise was because of them going from house to house.
If you don’t know what Halloween is, don’t worry you are among major part of Indians. I also searched internet to find out what it exactly is, although I had rough idea about it. If you want to read more you can refer:?http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Halloween
This post is not about what Halloween is, rather something related to our approach which gets reflected through this and other festivals. Part of Halloween celebration is that children get dressed as ghosts, monster and go to houses and get cakes and chocolates. Wikipedia mentions
Groups of poor people, often children, would go door-to-door during Allhallowtide, collecting soul cakes, in exchange for praying for the dead, especially the souls of the givers’ friends and relatives
I also saw hundreds of children in our small apartment dressed and going around houses (My door bell rang for 10-15 times). I was surprised to see that so many people celebrate Halloween. A festival which has come from west has become so popular among so called elite class in India. It was nice to see how down to earth this elite class has become, allowing their children to go from house to house to collect chocolates and cakes. I absolutely appreciate that, this makes children humble. But is it the reason Halloween is becoming popular? Schools (so called International) and Parents are encouraging their children because they want them to be humble?
Then I was reminded of another similar festival, Indian festival Lohri. You can refer: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lohri
I remember childhood days when Lohri was very popular. Lohri also has tradition where children go from house to house to collect revari and other sweets. Wikipedia mentions
During the day, children go from door to door singing folk songs. These children are given sweets and savories, and occasionally, money. Turning them back empty-handed is regarded inauspicious.?The collections gathered by the children are known as Lohri and consist of til, gachchak, crystal sugar, gur (jaggery), moongphali (peanuts) and phuliya or popcorn.
Slowly this tradition died (or is dying in other parts of India) because parents thought it was indecent (or cheap) for children to go from door to door to collect such small things from others.
So certainly popularity of Halloween is not driven by its good tradition because we already had similar tradition which we stopped because it didn’t look decent.
So what has made Halloween (and Christmas, Valentine day, New Year, Friendship day) so popular in India. This has two aspects:
First reason is common belief among Indians (specially youth) that anything coming from English speaking land is great (even if that is not new, these festivals have been celebrated there for long time, may be new to us). It’s fashion to celebrate anything which is from that part of world, is seen in Hollywood movies or shows. This attitude is not just restricted to festivals, it applies to everything from movies to music, cloths to books, beliefs to language. I am not against new or west, I am not someone orthodox. But if blindly clinging to old is orthodox so is blindly accepting new. Whenever human beings don’t apply their rational and follow herd mentality, it is orthodox. Then it doesn’t matter if it is getting stuck to old or accepting new.
Second is Market. There is huge market for gifts and celebration products (including magical soft drinks that make you happy) that is totally dependent on our expenditure. This can be a longer discussion if consumer is driving market or markets are driving consumers.
Not everyone will agree with me, but if sticking to past or accepting anything new is taken as trend, without using rational, there is no difference between two.