On a typical Halloween, Sabina Xavier, chief operating officer, Y-Axis, would answer her door and put candy into the outstretched hands of costumed trick-or-treaters. This year, things will be a little different due to the requirements of social distancing. “But we are doing our best to keep with the spirit of the season,” says Sabina.
Halloween is now widely celebrated in India because of Hollywood movies and the influx of expats into our country. “We introduced them to Diwali and Holi and they in turn exposed us to their cultures of celebrating Thanksgiving or St. Patricks Day and even Halloween!” points out Sabina. Her children — Zara and Yana — have been celebrating Halloween for many years. The international school they attend has over a hundred nationalities and a Halloween Parade is held every year. Every child dresses up and shows off creative costumes. Adults too dress up and join in the fun.
“Over the years, Halloween has become part of our lives like the other festive occasions,” says Sabina. Giving details of the activities planned, she says, “Our home will be decorated with some scary looking stuff and the kids are already planning their costumes. From 3 to 6 pm on Saturday, the seven kids in our very small community will decorate Halloween cookies baked in the shape of pumpkins, bats, tombstones etc. We’ve bought little pumpkins that will be carved and lit candles will be placed inside them. There’s freshly baked pumpkin pie, pumpkin bread, spiced pumpkin latte and even a Halloween-themed pizza on the menu. And to round it off, they will watch a scary movie.”
Once it’s dark, the costumed children will knock on the doors of each of the 10 villas in the community, and ask the inmates to choose between giving them a treat or having a trick played on them. “They have planned a list of tricks and I'm looking forward to dressing up and joining the fun,” adds Sabina, founder, Heal-a-child.
Triputi of Sage Sustainable Living cafe says their Halloween celebrations this year are focussed on children. “Due to COVID-19, all the kids were confined indoors, so we want to give them a break during this Halloween. We have planned a 45-minute session of Halloween-themed creative writing and storytelling for kids in the 7-14 age group,” she says, adding, the event will be held in a large hall with enough space to observe social distancing norms. “We are following Halloween dress code too, and are hosting this event in association with Humans of Nirvana,” adds Triputi.
“We have plenty of desi festivals, especially around this time of the year, to celebrate. But none of them involves dressing up as spooky creatures, which is why kids just love Halloween,” explains yoga expert Rina Hindocha. A lot of adults love celebrating it too, because who wants to give up on an excuse to show off their creativity?,” says Rina adding, “This is one festival where the religious context takes a back seat, and we all are at our spooky and creative best.”
“The essence of any festival is how it brings us closer and spreads smiles across our faces — children and adults alike. We know very little about Halloween, agreed. But in a life so full of stress, why resist a chance to dress up and pretend to be a zombie or a magician or a ghost?,” sums up Rina Hindocha.