Diwali vs Halloween

Strange title eh, you might think. After all what does Diwali, a traditional Indian Hindu festival have to do with Halloween, the 31st October costume parade? 

Quite a lot, I would say.

"I hate this thing!" shouts my 6-year old as I make him try out his kurta for Diwali celebration in school. The same kurta was lovingly hand picked by me, during my recent visit to India, from dozens of similar colourful clothes. Visualizing how handsome my sons would look in it, I didn't mind exceeding my budget for these comfortable loose shirts. "Fine, just wear what you want or just wear your uniform then!" I stormed out of his room exasperated. My elder son who was a silent part of this drama, and who would have preferred to wear his football t-shirt, quietly donned on his kurta with a pair of jeans. He expected me to smile, to feel happy as he had followed my instructions, but I was quite indifferent by then. This is not what I had visualised. Fine, I knew there would be no squeals of delight or showers of 'Thank you mummy', but downright refusal is something I can't accept. What's wrong? Why can't my kids enjoy this festival as much as I did when I was their age, a festival that is an integral part of their motherland?

It's been more than 7 years now that we are living outside India, and although we do keep going back for summer holidays and short breaks, we have never once gone back during the festival of Diwali, for one practical reason - we do not get Diwali holidays in school! But that doesn't stop us from celebrating the festival. Year after year I have taken the effort to light up diyas, decorate the house with lights and lamps, do small poojas, read Diwali stories, buy new traditional clothes for the family and even bring in some sparklers for the kids to light and enjoy! I also take the onus of celebrating Diwali in their school or class, with their classmates, so that they don't think it's an alien concept. And yet after all these years.....

You might say Let it be! Festivals are just not a 'boys' thing. What's the fun in wearing traditional outfits anyway? But just wait another two weeks and see the excitement building up for another festival. Halloween - a festival to remember the dead, where according to me prayers, meditation and giving solace would have done more good to meet the objective, instead of dressing up as zombies, vampires and Draculas! Its not that I don't like dressing up. For the first couple of Halloweens I bought pumpkin costumes, cowboy hats, Spider-man and other superhero costumes for the boys, indulging in their fantasies, joining in the fun, although honestly we all had no clue about the real purpose of Halloween. I still remember, all those years ago, when we had visited the first house for 'trick or treat' I was aghast at the cobwebs made to hang on the ceiling and the table 'decorated' with spiders with false blood stains on the door! Really? I thought to myself, Aren't festivals all about cleaning and purifying self and our surroundings? Artificial cobwebs? I just couldn't understand. Add to that the ''wonderful'' world of candies! All the pleading, cajoling, requesting and ordering the kids, all year round, not to eat these sugar bombs, is put to waste, by the big bags and boxes of candies that come home right after the festival. And the costumes - they are certainly evolving - from being cute and meaningful to being downright ghoulish. There is no fuss to wear this outfit for sure as kids can't wait for 31st October to don their favourite costume of the dead! Again, I have been playing along with them, encouraging them to dress up in what they liked, face painting for them, buying accessories, going for and even calling kids over for 'trick or treat'. I even bought my very first cobweb to adorn my door!

When our kids are too little to understand things and participate like robots, we think its a matter of time till they grow up and learn to share our happiness and enthusiasm. But when they do grow up other things take priority in their lives and our grand plans seem to face a roadblock! "But we did this every year, what's wrong now?" asks a mother. If only a child would answer I have grown up Mummy, that's whats wrong! Its easy to say that I won't have any expectations from my child. We all say that when our kids are small and yet we all demand the attention, the response that we think we deserve for all our hard work over the years. Its our hopes, our expectations, our dreams vs their wants, their priorities. It has happened in the past, is happening now and I am sure it will continue happening in the future. This eternal Diwali vs Halloween war!

Have you faced this kind of a situation with your children? Would love to hear your thoughts!

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