07 November, 2007

That time of the year ..... called Halloween !!!

I know this post comes a little late. It is well over a week since Halloween but as the saying goes “better late than never”.

Though Halloween, nowadays, is associated more with costumes and Jack-o-Lanterns and treats – like every other festival, this one too has its history.

There are concerns expressed about Halloween – in that children tend to overdose on candies, in that Halloween is a prime example of commercialization, in that Halloween involves expense over outfits that kind of become the “wear only once” kind, in that Halloween involves a whole bunch of kids going from door to door asking for treats, in that while the kids are out “trick or treating” they generate a “hell of a lot” of noise and many many more.

I am of the opinion that it is not just Halloween - just about every festival is associated with sweets of some kind or the other. While we may gobble up sweets loaded with sugar and cholesterol in celebration of many other festivals, why bring up the "candy" issue and single out Halloween ?

Yet again, coming to the issue of commercialization - yes - it does make its presence felt - especially during festive seasons. But then again, hard fact remains that it is here to stay. Festivals can be celebrated in the festive spirit without falling prey to mindless ads and promotions. It is upto us to decide where to draw the line.

On the issues of associating candy with Halloween and the one time outfit buying and going trick or treating – I so agree with what Dotmom has to say. She airs her point of view – a very balanced point of view. Read Dotmom’s point of view here. And I do agree with what she says.

By far, the most far fetched one is where one gets to hear that Halloween is not part of the Indian “culture”. There are many proponents to the theory that Halloween is not part of the Indian culture and therefrom arises the premise that "since it is not part of our culture there is no need for us to take part in the festivities associated with Halloween".

On the point of view of Halloween not being part of the Indian culture – I have just this to say. Why bring cross cultural and regional differences into the picture when the children are at an age when they are not aware that such things exist. Why put ideas into their heads ? Especially ideas which stress more on the differences rather than the unity factor. Ideas which pay more heed to instilling the need to recognise the fact that no two cultures are the same instead of looking for parallels or similarities in two different cultures.

Instead of harping on how Halloween is not part of our culture why not focus on what we can teach our children through Halloween. Even if they are not at an age when they can be told and taught the history or how Halloween originated, this is a very good way for them to learn the concept of “giving”. They do realize that “giving” a treat to other trick or treaters is just as much fun as going and “getting or taking” a treat themselves.

Why not treat this as an opportunity to teach children about the many different festivals that abound and are celebrated in the many different countries all around the world. Teach them to respect different cultures and imbibe the spirit of the festival.

We do normally decorate our home with “Pookalams” for Onam, with Diyas for Diwali, with a little Christmas tree, tassels and stockings on the windows for Christmas. So this year around, we decorated our lobby for Halloween too. The kids were absolutely thrilled to bits.

This time around, there were 80 odd children going trick or treating in our apartment complex. And it was amazing to watch the camaraderie amongst them. There were many instances wherein the elder children would shield the younger ones in the elevators – because the elevators used to be packed to capacity. There were plenty of instances when the older children dug into their treat bags or baskets and gave away a treat or two to the younger children. They “shared” out of their own free will. There were no parents harping at them to do that. It was spontaneous and those were among many other lovely little gestures that touched my heart.

"Clothes make a statement ; Costumes tell a story." ~ Mason Cooley

Aparna had not quite made up her mind on her costume. I did suggest Abu (as in Alladin’s little friend – in which case, like I mentioned to Aparna, she would not even need a costume) but she didn’t buy it. In the midst of all that confusion we found a basic fabric costume at home (pantaloons with an attached top) that looked like it could well be turned into a Princess Jasmine costume. And that was what happened. A little bit of hemming and velcroing around the costume. A bit of work on the collar and then with the glueing on of plenty of moon and star shaped confetti in different colours – we did well and truly have a nice version of the Princess Jasmine costume. Some nice long costume jewellery earrings and some body tattoo stickers and Princess Jasmine was ready.

We only hoped – rather fervently – that this Princess Jasmine would circumnavigate her way around without her glasses. No one was quite keen on the idea of Princess Jasmine biting the dust or Princess Jasmine stumbling on some wee wedge of a cobblestone and ending up in one of the rather abundant huge flower pots that line our apartment complex. Pccchhhh !!! No such excitement. What a disappointment !!! ??

Abhay wanted to be a vampire. Tried his level best to look scary as he said it but ended up looking like a very cute and innocent looking vampire. Forget about sinking his fangs into some nubile beauty – this little vampire would not even swat a mosquito. Some vampire that huh ??? !!! And as has become a ritual of sorts with him, he was down with a throat infection and was on his third day of antibiotics. So we had a rather tired looking little vampire going trick or treating.

Abhay, however, had another round of Trick or Treating at his kindergarten on Halloween Day. He was a vampire again – this time a fresher looking and much better feeling vampire whose fangs were dripping blood. Abhay’s teacher at school had requested all the parents to send in empty icecream cartons to school so that the cartons could be turned into little pumpkin baskets. And the baskets were so very cute and absolutely lovely. That was a gem of an idea on her part.

And the excitement that the children generated was so incredibly palpable and indeed very contagious. So contagious was the spirit of Halloween that Yours Truly actually showed her true colors.

Yours Truly tried her level best to look the part but quite apparently the children (including toddlers) insisted on calling out “Aunteeee Aunteeee” with huge grins on their faces and their chubby little hands waving out like little windshield wipers. So Yours Truly attempting a take on a witch’s role turned into a comedy of sorts. Yeah OK – whatever makes the kids happy ! Right ??

Vic also had a gala time donning a scary facemask and “entertaining” all the kids who showed up at our doorstep for “trick or treat”. So the kids ended up getting “tricked” first and then “treated”. Judging from their reactions, a treat after being tricked was apparently far more enjoyable :-)

All in all, Halloween was a lot of fun this year. It was utterly enjoyable getting the costumes ready, getting all the face paint ready and finally getting all the stuff onto both the siblings.

At the end of it all, when we asked Appu and Abhay whether they had a nice time this Halloween, this was what we got.

The looks on their faces, I guess, says the story quite well !!!

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11 voice(s) said so:

choxbox said...

Bingo. I always find myself agreeing with you. Can you please be my neighbour? Our kids can play together, you can make yumm stuff and also teach the kids craft and I can.. well, not sure what I can do but still!

To repeat what you have said about Halloween - we CAN draw the line and keep away the nasty commercialization bits, sweets are a part of every celebration so big deal, kids share on their own, so what if its not part of our culture.

Lovely pix. Appu looks verry cute and so does Abhay. What huge smiles!

DotMom said...

lovely, lovely pictures. Abhay loooks utterly cute and your princess looks like a real lady :)
And as you wrote, the picture with their smiles for it told the whole story!

Dee said...

awesome post gauri!..yes the look on their faces says it all :)

Kodi's Mom said...

so I was going to leave a comment here of a size that rivaled the one I left on DotMom's, when I realized - we are thinking the same thing!! we can take aspects that we like and can appreciate out of a festival and tailor it so it is palatable to us without marring the spirit and reducing the fun factor for kids.

for that, I will spare you my longer comment...and also for posting those absolutely adorable pics of Princess Jasmine and vampire. the costume is too good and I would never have figured that it was homemade. hey, I remember Abhay as Dracula from last year! also looks like the witch is played her part well ;)

Neera said...

Agree with you!! I had thought of reading up or asking my American friends the significance of the festival bot forgot to do either of those. Nevertheless took this opportunity to have loads of fun and candies, of course! However I'll be honest - I told Vansh that the kids collect all the candies, eat one and mom and dad eat the rest.

Just Like That said...

Happy Diwali Gauri, to all of you!:-)

dipali said...

Lovely post,lovely happy kids!
And super creative Mom:)

mnamma said...

The Princess and the Dracula look awesome!!! You really are a super creative Mom :)

Fuzzylogic said...

Ok!it's official Gauri,you are super creative:)And yes Abhay does look like a cute innocent vampire with no evil streak at all:)and my oh my those outfits are superb and princess Jasmine is looking so pleased.
Ahem and the witch looks fabulous herself. I agree with everything that you wrote about Halloween Gauri,couldn't have said it better myself.

Gauri said...

Choxbox : :-) How I wish too !! The kids would have had a gala time together

Dotmom, Dee, Dipali, MNAmma : :-) Thanks.

Kodi's Mom : Something tells me I just about managed to escape getting a earful :-D. As far as the witch goes, she did not have to "play the part". It comes naturally, you see :-DDD

Neera : And he actually let dad and mom polish off the candies ?:-)

Fuzzy : Thanks :-)

Poppins said...

Awesome ! What nice pictures, they book adorable. You make me want to celebrate the festival myself :)