Lost Souls – Halloween Overshadows All Souls’ Day.


Pauline M

November 1.

I scroll down my homepage on Facebook. Halloween pictures of people on my friends list…of them, their children, their friends, their neighbours, even their pets fill the page. I look at the names and mentally tick off places where they live in – New York, London, Singapore, Dublin, Gurgaon, Mumbai, Bengaluru…wait! I double check. It appears correct.

India, it now seems, is slowly imbibing Halloween just like it did Valentine's Day, Father's Day, Mother's Day and every other day… except maybe No Bra Day which many men desperately tried to promote via Social Media but failed.

This year India saw a definite rise (proof found on Facebook!) in the number of Halloween parties organized and number of little children who went treat-or-tricking. And while I am all for fun and frolic, I do wish people at least knew what the significance of each celebration was rather than just superficially follow the rituals. I seriously wonder how many of those who dressed 'ghostly and ghastly' even knew how Halloween came about and how many children who went out trick-or-treating knew that they were actually following a tradition where treats were given out in exchange for praying for the souls of the dead? And that their costumes were to disguise them well from spirits who haunted the earth seeking revenge? Or that Halloween is actually All Saints' Eve, the eve of the Western Christian feast of All Hallows' Day or All Saints' Day observed on November1. And because November 2 is observed as All Souls' Day, a day in the Christian calendar for remembering the dead and the souls stuck in purgatory, the macabre of Halloween celebrations?

I also wonder how long it will take for the Shiv Sena, BJP, RSS to realise the occasions' connect to Christianity and object. Of course, without much thought that many other world cultures have days honouring their dead as part of their tradition which originate much before the Roman Catholic Church was even founded – Day of the Dead among Mexicans, the Qingming Festival, the Double Ninth Festival and the Ghost Month among Chinese, the Bon Festival of Japan, and closer home the Nepali holiday of Gai Jatra ("Cow Pilgrimage") when every family who has lost a member during the previous year must participate.

A day to remember and honour the dead is so appropriate. To all cultures. Human beings are resilient. We bounce back after the loss of a loved one and soon get caught in the little things of everyday living. A day spent remembering those gone, I would think, brings back fond memories and reminds us of our own transiency.

But then we go and ruin it by getting it all fluffed in superficiality and rituals, by forgetting what the real purpose of traditions like these are, by choosing sides – to either participate or oppose.

So when I visit the graves of my near and dear ones on All Souls' Day and silently pray for their souls to rest in peace, I must remember to also pray for us lost souls. For the one group who have lost their ability to question and learn and the other, to accept.

(Carrie Bradshaw said "When I first moved to New York. I'd buy Vogue instead of dinner. I felt it fed me more".
Pauline M buys dinner.
An IIM Alumni who spent years in the corporate world living the jet set life, Pauline returned to her home town Shillong to think, to feel, to catch her breath. And of course, relish her dinner.)