How Halloween Is Celebrated In India
Written by Nandini Sethi
India is a country of many festivals. Whatever the season, we celebrate. That’s why in the recent years, with the onset of the internet and social media, there have been talks about why Halloween hasn’t caught on in India.
Many people may not know this, but we have our own versions of Halloween in India. Although there are no pumpkin spiced lattes and sugary candies, we have our own meaning behind why and how it is celebrated in different parts of the country:
On Diwali Day, in the popular Jagannath Temple in Odisha, there is a special ritual performed knows as Badabadiya Daka. On this day, people light up sticks and point them towards the sky to pray for the loss of their loved ones. They plead with their ancestors to come visit them in the dark but depart in the light.
Mahalaya Amavasya is a significant night for Hindus, as it is the last day of Pitra Paksha; it is when members of the family offer food and water to the departed souls. This is done to ensure that the souls of our forefathers are well looked after in heaven and is a way of signifying that they remain in our prayers and thoughts.
Bhoot Chaturdarshi observed in the far east, on the same day Chhoti Diwali is celebrated in the rest of the country. This is the day when evil spirits are warded off. In the ritual or puja, 14 forefathers are called and then shooed away. The ritual involves 14 different kinds of cooked vegetables along with 14 lit earthen lamps. This is done to ensure no evil remains in the neighbourhood.
In the Muslim community, Shab e-Barat is their version of Halloween. Observed on the 14th night of Sha’aban, this night is also called the Night of Records or the Night of Fortune and Forgiveness. Members of the community believe that on this night the Lord writes their destiny based on their past deeds; and while he writes it, they offer their prayers. This is their way of ensuring a prosperous year.
Companies have now started employing Halloween as a marketing tactic, but that is only a recent development. Traditionally, speaking of evil, spirits, jinns, is refrained from, since it is believed that by doing so we are manifesting bad luck.
What are your thoughts on this? Do you observe any of these occasions? Our country is so eccentric that a single festival is celebrated so drastically even within one neighbourhood. But the unique thing is, none of these traditions are baseless; each and every one of them are backed by reason and a deep history. Who knows how many more versions of Halloween are there, observed by communities we aren’t even aware of?