By Harshmeet Singh
Chances are that like my Facebook wall, over the past week, your Facebook wall would also have been studded with pictures of people in vampire and Dracula costumes, dancing in a night club with a drink in their hand. Or maybe you were one of them yourself! Happy Halloween to you in that case! The past few years have seen a huge surge in the number of Indians celebrating western festivals such as Halloween. I, for one, am clueless about why has Halloween become such a major occasion in India? And before you accuse me of being intolerant towards any particular religion, let me tell you that Halloween isn’t tied to any particular religion.
India has never faced a dearth of festivals. So importing an all new festival from the western countries doesn’t seem to be logical. Or maybe it is the term ‘western’ that attracted us so much that we decided to make Halloween our own! Unlike the Indian festivals that have family gatherings as an essential component, Halloween celebrations see Indian youth crowding at a night club, playing loud music and enjoying booze.
In fact, it would be fair to say that as western festivals have gained acceptance in India, the traditional celebrations of our indigenous festival have eroded gradually. Now festivals like Diwali witness all night parties at the night clubs. From being a festival of lights to becoming a festival of disco lights, Diwali has surely reinvented itself. That’s not all. Traditional gifts such as dry fruits and sweets have slowly been replaced by chocolates and decorated cheese items to suit the taste buds of our highly ‘west inclined’ new generation.
Many would justify this change citing the changing times. But if traditions changed with times, how can they be traditions after all? The shops that once displayed diyas and fancy candles now have fancy Dracula costumes on display!
One may argue that Indian festivals such as Holi and Diwali have also gained acceptance in western countries over the past few years. But the fact is that Holi, Diwali and other Indian festivals are celebrated by the Indian diaspora exclusively and not the home populace per se, which isn’t the case with Halloween in India.
India has always been known for its ability to accept, accommodate and assimilate new cultures and ideas. But such tolerance and accommodating nature must not be at the cost of overwriting our indigenous methods of celebrations. Though it would be incorrect to say that Indian festivals are dying, but youth’s enthusiasm towards western festivals is clearly overshadowing our own festivals. While aiming to uphold our tolerance, we have reached a point where our own culture is facing a threat of erosion. There is absolutely no harm in celebrating western festivals, but before putting on that Halloween costume and moving out to the night club, ask yourself if you would ever celebrate Pongal or Bihu or Tesu with the same fervor.