”Indian Halloween” headed an invitation to a Diwali celebration I saw – and smiled at – a couple of days ago on Facebook. It sounded like a hybrid of the Festival of Light and All Saints ’ Day! These two holidays intersect on the Vedic lunar calendar and the Western almanac this year.
A couple of minutes ago, I googled “Halloween” in order to understand what the tradition is about. When I was seventeen, I spent a school-year in America as an exchange student and, still, remember the cat outfit I dressed up for Halloween. My older sister, Kim, in the family I stayed at was a cowboy. She took me to a reception at her workplace and I assumed Halloween was an annual costume party. I wondered about the lanterns, skulls and scarecrows but don’t recall anyone explaining them to me. Due to commercialism, Halloween has since been adapted in Finland, too.
Although there are similarities, Diwali and Halloween are visibly different traditions. The former is about awakening the inner knowledge. It’s about contemplating, growing and revealing the pure and eternal beyond the physical, whereas the latter is about associating with the dead: the good, bad and evil. All Hallows’ Eve is observed in the Christian community as a reminder of our mortality and to honor and, in some cases, fear those who have passed away. The custom of dressing in disguise was there, initially, to hide from the vengeance of the spirits. Of course, both, Diwali and Halloween are mostly taken today as social events rather than occasions of spiritual or religious importance.
In one sense, yogic lifestyle is a year around Diwali because it’s anchored in the cognition, consciousness and activities of devotional nature. The meditation I wake up for every morning is like igniting a ghee-lamp to dispel ignorance and apathy.
We had a snack of aloo patras yesterday. They are potato filled whirls that are usually deep-fried. I made the dough slightly fattier and baked them in the oven instead. I’m not sure about the origin of the recipe. It seems to me, like the combination of Diwali and Halloween, a crossbreed of two different worlds.
Aloo patras must be served with a chutney. They set a canvas on which the flavors of chutney are painted. A recipe for the date and tamarind chutney will be in the book.
Pardon the ugly vinyl glove in my right hand. It looks like a Halloween themed artifact generating doom and horror! However, it's there because of a touch sensitivity to chili, ginger and a million other things.
Oh, and before I forget: happy Indian Halloween!