From the Viewsroom

Trick question

Sandhya Rao | Updated on March 12, 2018 Published on October 31, 2017

Is Halloween’s conquering the world?

Halloween, celebrating the scary with sweets on October 31, originated with a Celtic festival that was held to ward off ghosts. It also marked the end of summer and the beginning of winter in Europe. In recent times, though, Halloween is beginning to rival Valentine’s Day in its global appeal. Even in India, Halloween parties are slowly gaining ground. What can possibly explain this?

What the western world does, the rest of the world will too. This appears to be the unwritten law of the modern world. In Japan last year, the Japan Anniversary Association says everything Halloween-connected reached $1.2 billion, making it the second-biggest event in Japan, after Christmas. Reports suggest that Halloween has garnered huge fans in India over the last five years. In fact, one newspaper article even suggests that this festival, with its pagan rituals and street celebrations, is perfectly suited to India. Yes, there have been occasions when Holi colours have been incorporated into celebrations in the West, in the US in particular, but by and large, we don’t hear very much about the western world adopting festivals from the East. So, does this mean the rest of the world is getting rapidly deracinated? That’s not bad, is it? It’s not, but it is curious because the action’s all one-way, leading to cultural domination as well. Look at how desperate Turkey is to be part of the European Union; or Russia. And the reasons are not entirely economic and/or political. Nor is this genuine multiculturalism. It seems more like a lack of confidence on one’s moorings or identity.

There is another aspect to this phenomenon, and it’s all to do with commerce. As a Swedish schoolteacher pointed out: “Come Valentine’s Day and children as young as 10 years are infected. We don’t have Valentine’s Day in Sweden, yet look how well these card and novelty companies have marketed themselves.” True. Stores in India spill over with Valentine’s Day gifts and cards in February. Now Halloween joins the bandwagon. It’s a clever trick to sell more treats. And we’re all falling for it.

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Published on October 31, 2017
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