Halloween as Rituals: A Case from a Gated Community in Hyderabad, India

 From time to time, people across the world, irrespective of religion, celebrate different festivals or other religious functions/rituals. We all know the different religious festivals, programmes, functions, rituals, etc., but Halloween is not common among people. So, I am presenting my experience. For several years in the gated community where I live, children, irrespective of age and gender, celebrate different festivals and rituals, including Halloween. I, as a senior citizen, enjoy their enthusiasm and joyousness. So, before writing about the Halloween rituals by our campus children, let me highlight a few points about Halloween that have been collected from Britannica (britannica.com/story/why-do-we-celebrate-halloween). "Halloween has been around for more than a thousand years. Originally a religious observance, it became increasingly secular over the centuries until its religious trappings disappeared. Today, Halloween is considered a holiday for dress-up and fun, especially for children.

Halloween’s origins can be traced back to the ancient Celtic festival known as Samhain, held on November 1 in contemporary calendars. It was believed that on that day, the souls of the dead returned to their homes, so people dressed in costumes and lit bonfires to ward off spirits. This way, popular Halloween tropes such as witches, ghosts, and goblins became associated with the holiday.
In the 7th century CE, Pope Boniface IV created All Saints Day, originally celebrated on May 13. A century later, Pope Gregory III moved the holiday to November 1, likely as a Christian substitute for the pagan festival of Samhain. The day before, the saintly celebration became known as All Hallows Eve or Halloween. Though the holiday began in Celtic regions of Ireland, the United Kingdom, and France, it quickly spread to other parts of the world. The first American colonists in New England were forbidden to celebrate it for religious reasons, though it enjoyed some popularity in the Southern colonies. By the 1800s, fall festivals marking the seasonal harvest incorporated Halloween elements, and Irish immigrants escaping the devastating Potato Famine brought with them many Halloween traditions that remain today.”
In one gated community of Hyderabad known as Libdom Luxury Villas (Raj Reddy Valley), Bandlaguda Jagir, children, irrespective of age, enjoyed Halloween rituals by dressing vis-à-vis wearing masks like ghosts, vampires, witches, animals, and others. For the benefit of readers, I wish to mention that this gated community is spread over around 17 acres of land with indoor and outdoor games, a gym, a park, a swimming pool, a function hall, etc. Altogether, 190 families (a few might be unoccupied) live in this gated community; each has a duplex house and surroundings little land. In the land, all nurture flowers, some vegetables, etc. The most highlighting point is that this gated campus consists of different religions, castes, and languages (people of different States), representing a mini-India in the true sense, and residents celebrate all festivals amicably. Anyway, as a part of Halloween rituals, around 70 children, irrespective of age and gender, participated in the programme. It is noteworthy to mention that kids and teenagers, by forming groups - each group consisting of 7 to 8 children based on their age group and friendship enthusiastically visited almost every villa, and elders of each villa spontaneously provided each child candy, chocolate, and other sweets. I, as a senior citizen, thoroughly enjoyed their enthusiasm, happiness, joy, and cheerfulness. I read in my school days a German proverb that I recollect now, “You can do anything with children if you only play with them.” I firmly believe that the children of our campus are our great resources.
(I express my gratitude to Mrs. Sreelatha, Villa-49, and Mrs Ramya Reddy, Villa-16, for providing me necessary inputs to write the article).
Prof Shankar Chatterjee, Hyderabad