Trick or treat?

Trick or treat, is the emblem of Halloween. Are we really tricking ourselves? Are we deceiving ourselves and our reality in the name of seeking pleasure and joy? What is our culture? What are our roots? Are we eradicating cultural diversity through a cultural invasion?

The questions are potent. And we have to have to look for the answers.

Cultural diversity is the existence of different cultures from primarily the viewpoint of religion, language, culture and ethnicity. Social, economic classes and gender, have a modulating influence on the cultural practices to some extent.

It is opposed to a mono or universal culture, concept, erroneously counted by many as globalization, and a cultural revolution.

Cultural invasion, on the other hand, is when the foundations of a particular culture and cultural practices are weakened by a foreign invasion of concepts alien to that civilization. In the case of the sub-continent, the British colonizers brought with them, new literature and art, overshadowing and at times replacing the rituals and traditions of the natives.

One such example of cultural invasion is Halloween. It falls on October 31 every year. It is a religious ritual celebrated in the belief of warding off the evil spirits before the start of the new-year.

Halloween is a Celtic tradition, yet it is celebrated through the world.

Why to talk of only Halloween? Christmas, Thanksgiving, Easter, Eid, Holy, Deewali are all traditions though belonging to certain specific subsets of population. These are celebrated globally, but usually by the followers of the faith and the traditions in that subset of the population.

This cultural diversity on the one hand is the beauty of the human civilization and on the other hand leads to remarkable innovations and craftsmanship.

The world is today becoming a global village. And the cultural diversity is gradually being replaced by an invasion of one culture.f

The significance of rituals from the perspective of religion or identity is quickly vanishing to embrace an all-encompassing culture where the primary objective is to ‘have fun’. The ‘why’ behind certain celebrations is phasing out. No longer do we understand the value associated with a particular ritual. The current generation just wants to have fun and in the fun and frolic, the authenticity of the purpose to have the ‘fun’ is lost in the waves of the ocean.

The same has happened to the event of Halloween. Over the years, Halloween evolved into a day of activities like trick or treating, carving jack o lanterns, festive gatherings, donning costumes and eating treats. Rather than understanding the gravity of the event it has become more of a jolly affair.

The elaborate decorations, the orange and black colour theme, the creative costumes, lanterns, pumpkins and fancy lights all point to the boisterous and lively ambience.

Whilst the truth is that culture is becoming globalized yet the credit is due because in our draconian lives, we all need a little fun and drama.

We must not forget the real reason behind why we celebrate a custom or a tradition, yet it cannot be denied that these rituals are just a way to relax our mind and body relax from the gravity of life.

So go celebrate occasions of happiness, in your own way, in the context of your prevailing beliefs and cultural heritage. We have to keep our traditions alive.

Beenish Mahmood has a double Master's in English Literature with almost a decade of experience in magazine journalism. She is passionate about South Asian Fiction and environmental issues. She can be reached through email at

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