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Halloween frenzy takes over

The milieu of upcoming Halloween has enveloped everyone in the US, writes Shalini Narang.

india Updated: Oct 28, 2005 02:01 IST
CALIFORNIA DIARY | Shalini Kathuria Narang
CALIFORNIA DIARY | Shalini Kathuria Narang

The milieu of the upcoming festival of Halloween that is annually celebrated on October 31st throughout US has enveloped everyone and everything from homes and offices to schools and stores. The festivity informally commences the season of celebration in the United States.

Our nearby grocery store is showcasing pumpkins and pumpkin delicacies including cakes, cookies, pastries and pies in plenty. It takes mettle not to succumb to the myriad gastronomic delicacies on display. I am tempted to indulge at the sight of these delectable delights but the look on my hubby's face reminds me of the weighing scale at home. I tread on to the aisle stocking the Halloween decorations including the kits for pumpkin carvings. Numerous decorations including the ever popular hay man and the scary and spooky skeletons have begun appearing at the front yards of many homes.

Resplendent multicoloured string of lights and jack of lanterns on window panes and doors are another inclusive of the festival that is the only communal festivity of sorts in US and is marked by costumed children going from door to door asking for yummy treats. The popular call of youngsters knocking on doors is "Trick or Treat." The people generously oblige with handfuls of candies and chocolates and the children move on to the next house for another fill to their bounty bag. Festivals truly have an innate ability to incite the child in you and one of the best ways to enjoy the celebrations is by indulging in the unadulterated spirit of the festivity with childhood frenzy.

Besides the annual Halloween costume parades in schools, many offices also organise get together and employees are encouraged to dress up and make merry. From the latest animated characters to the ever-popular vampires and witches, the array of costume choices at shops and stores is in keeping with the popular fashion icons of the day. The one constant to the myriad costumes is the "Made in China" label.

From a latent observer of the celebration during my first few Halloweens in US, I have advanced to become an active participant at the parties and parades marking the festivity where I escort my costumed daughter. Children truly open new doors to experiences in life that might otherwise remain unsavored and untried.

The yearly change in my daughter's choice of costumes is another measure of the fast passage of time. From a fairy princess to a splendid snow white to a pop diva, her selections have spanned faster than I can cope.

I remember my little girl unable to take her eyes off the princess costumes and having a hard time deciding if she wanted to oblige Cinderella or Ariel or Jasmine by imbibing their dresses but this year during our annual shopping spree in search of Halloween costumes, she refused to even walk the aisle stocking the beautiful gowns. "Princess costumes are for babies," she firmly declared and pulled me towards the aisle stocking clothes or a lack thereof of cheerleaders, pop icons and others.

Before the grand finale parade in the malls and neighbourhoods on the night of Halloween, the other popular sights around the cities are pumpkin patches where haystacks with hundreds of pumpkins are put on display in an attempt to create a rural ambience of a pumpkin farm of sorts. Modern day rides; haunted house displays and food stalls marry the modern to the traditional and complete the harrowing experience that marks the festival.

While helping me hang the string of lights, my daughter in the spirit of a true global citizen and an active ingredient of the multicultural American melting pot commented: "these lights are good for both Halloween and Diwali."

I agree. We will carve the pumpkin and perform the puja. I will draw the rangoli and make the modaks. In their spirit and solidarity, we will celebrate the festivals hoping to preserve our traditions while expanding our horizons.

First Published: Oct 27, 2005 17:54 IST