Halloween or Shalloween?

Like many of you reading this column, much of my news, entertainment and naval gazing plays out on Social Media. Last week was ripe for the picking when it came to things to pointlessly argue about in your head as you went about your day. China put an end to its one child policy, Chetan Bhagat eruditely mused over what Historians do all day, and women across the country proved their eternal devotion to their husbands by not eating or drinking for the whole day and reverting into cranky toddlers by the evening.

But there was one story doing the rounds that trumped all the others. Halloween in India!

Across the country, social media networks went a little nuts with people getting all worked out over this ghoulish, macabre night of the dead. We live in Doddanahalli not Detroit came the collective cry. We are Patels not Peters. And as one saffron tinged mother commented at the bus stop “There’s less Ram and too much Santa these days”.

I’ll admit, I wasn’t pleased when the rumblings about Halloween started doing the rounds in my house. But not because I found the custom phoren and not desi enough. My knee jerk reaction was far more prosaic. All I could think of was: “How much work do I have to do?” “How many of my short comings as a mother and human being will it reveal?”

Navratri? Finding nine different ways to make Sundal? (Also, I have a fear of beady eyed dolls).  Ganesh Chaturthi? Making kozhakkattais that inevitably turn out like wet tissue paper with sand inside them? Oh no. Krishna Jayanthi? Titanium bullets are easier to digest than my seedai. I don’t come out looking too good at the end of these festivals.

But then I thought about it, and Halloween, now this i can do. You order candy from the shop and have it home delivered. Put a white bed sheet over your kid’s head (cut out eyes optional) and kick them out the front door. And my slightly manic looking bat decorations totally fit in with the theme. The crazier looking the better.

To all the nay sayers:I get it. This isn’t part of our culture. What values are we teaching our children? Ring peoples door bells wearing an outfit your mother wouldn’t let you be seen dead in otherwise (I just got that pun) and demanding copious amounts of candy. And it’s acceptable. But this is what paradise looks like to kids. Hell, this is what it looks like to many adults too. A bonafide reason to act like infants for the day (Karwa Chauth may yield the same results, but then you have to starve for that.)

Now I’m quite happy to steer a movement to bring niche Indian celebrations back in to vogue and have scroll.in get all worked up about them. There’s Aippasi Pournami, sankataachaturthi and even vaikunta ekadasi all waiting to get popularised. But remember, the key is to ensure that the entire event can be outsourced on to amazon. Then I’m on board.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to click on a green leprechaun’s outfit. Rumour has it  that St. Paddy’s day is going to be very big next year. Remember, you read it here first.

This article first appeared here, in City Express, Chennai Edition, The New Indian Express.




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