Sunday, October 24, 2010


Most if not all festivals have rituals that we don't understand and makes us feel like are punching a ticket as we go through the journey of life. But at least they are grounded in one religion or the other and so have some religious reason to answer most of the "why do we do this" type questions. At that point it depends on your belief system to follow the festival or not. And good food + quality family time + a chance to say some religious prayers generally makes up for unanswered questions.

In America, I understand Christmas. I like the season and the festive mood. I don't celebrate Christmas. I am not a Christian and don't want to celebrate Christmas just to pretend and show-off to others that I am a progressive secular person. But I get it. I know why people celebrate it and it looks very charming in western countries. I usually go to parties when I am invited. Even if it is by desis and even if there is no Christian involved. I do find it odd that a non-Christian desi, who doesn't celebrate his own religion's festivals, invites 10 'thayir saadham' families for Christmas. I am totally judgmental on them when they say that they do it because their children, who have been brought up on the Santa Claus myth, "don't want to get disappointed" and can go and tell their white classmates that they celebrated Christmas with family too. I don't think the children will be disappointed and I don't think they have that many white kids in their class. But I don't object. Puliyodharai and Thayir Saadham is served in that party and I will go. Thanksgiving - I don't get it. However, I don't detest it that much because people don't invite me to eat dead birds. Halloween I detest.

Halloween scrapes the bottom of low I.Q. festivals. This to me represents people who can't think for themselves and make their own decisions. The word reminds me of mindless 'saaraya bottil' teenagers (and other adults with low I.Q.) who have fun by claiming to have fun. What are we celebrating here? Ghosts? What is there to celebrate about? It is not religion? It is neither science nor a Star Trek convention? It seems like people are dressing up as ghosts to visit american versions of TASMAC. Why? More importantly why are desis celebrating Halloween? I generally look down upon people who ask me "So what are your plans for Halloween?". I am a desi. I don't know how to answer that question. In my country we didn't know what this word meant when we grew up. That is until the so called "modern people" from Bangalore and certain parts of Adyar began to pretend they were westerners and started celebrating Halloween in their houses. I certainly looked down upon them And how does one "celebrate" Halloween? Most desis I know hit the saarayam, shout like dummies on the street, dance to bhangra music and call that celebrating Halloween. I don't want to dress up like an ugly ghost. I think most people who dress up like ghosts look like idiots. I get the boys who celebrate Halloween to get some girl drunk and then try and get her laid. That I respect. But most desis I know celebrate Halloween with other desis I know. All of them are married and generally not looking to get laid.

Recently, I was asked by a desi woman with a 18 month old baby - what Halloween plans I had for my 18 month old baby? Really! Why? The only reason I see people spending money on this is to satisfy themselves. Babies don't know about Halloween. Getting together with other Desis for a potluck, dressing babies up as ghosts and posting those photos in facebook is probably the most loser thing ever. No amount of Puliyodharai and Thayir Saadham in that potluck can compensate for that. Cowgirl is spot on about PseudoMaamis. The real 'Maami' is dead.


Voracious Blog Reader said...


Well written.

I have bookmarked you.

Voracious Blog Reader

Sundar Narayanan said...

everything you said is true.

I almost wrote a same post like you four five years ago.

18 month olds dont need halloween..

when they go to school and are in kindergarten or above, understand there is a peer pressure to come to school in a costume for a parade of sorts..

you live in amriika and send your kids to school here and therefore have no choice but to buy a used costume or make one and get over that part.

sometimes it is a let down of sorts for the kids.. especially in the wake of the Navrathri, golu, sundal paavadai hangover they have. .

the one thing that has caught my attention though is the communal pumpkin carving..

maybe that will make you feel good..

Anonymous said...

best post ever dude... desi's faking has gone to a level that you have to plan everyday avoiding these morons in grocery stores, restaurants etc

Hawkeye said...


the funny thing is - even the white people in my office ridicule halloween and say they have to do it bcoz of peer pressure.

you are a far more responsible, adaptable and caring parent than i think i will be. And you hate halloween.

both this observations scare me as to where the world is going to when are ALL doing stuff that we don't like just because other people are doing it in this country. And the other people really dont like doing it as well.

Maatuponnu said...

Same blood Hawkeye. I saw this one fb picture of a mom who had the back of her car hung with fake ottadai to create the ambiance or whatever. My grandmother would call them 'shaniyan'.:D No harm with trying to understand local customs, but when you celebrate golu to invite all your desi friends over and see your new house, when you celebrate halloween to invite all the non-desi people over, but perform shrardham 'shaastrathukku' that gets my goat. Rituals should be as much for oneself as it should be for the community/facebook else it is hypocrisy.

rads said...


Sometimes we have to just have fun too you know.

I dress up for Halloween some years am in the mood for. My kids do. My husband won't coz he doesn't care. It's okay. I like it. Heck, am even throwing a huge halloween profile picture change event party on Facebook and have 20 of my friends who are joining in the fun.
It's fun. That is all. It may not be your kind of fun, that doesn't mean it isn't. Right?

I am a maami, and it also bugs me that Halloween comes too close to Diwali. But hey, who cares, I LIKE the concept of dressing up, it's the one time when I can be silly and not care. (I don't care any other time too, but that's irrelevant for now)

I don't celebrate any festival because of the religion it is backed by. I do it because there is some joy derived out of it, including the Hindu ones. Diwali sucks here. We make the most of it.
After all, festivities decide the festival. :-)

Ultimately, we all do what works for us. I am quite sure I didn't drop from the heavens and there are many more who think like me. Some don't care what others think, some care and thus actions are decided.


Gradwolf said...

haha full form la irukeenga!

But you know about Halloween themed parties here in Chennai, don't you? WTF!

Karthick Krishna CS said...

excellent.... :)

Raj said...

Good post Hawkeye...

>>I get the boys who celebrate Halloween to get some girl drunk and then try and get her laid.That I respect.

You respect that??.. LOL....

>>I was asked by a desi woman with a 18 month old baby - what Halloween plans I had for my 18 month old baby?

Is that your life partner by any chance :-)


sreekrishnan said...

Thalaivaa... these people dont have one of the finest "Fancy Dress Competition" And of course no Ammavasai to break pumpkins.

So bring both together every year.

In India Kids get over that after 2 fancy dress competitions - just enough for them to get a "Awww cutee" comment on Facebook 20 yrs later !

and another 20 yrs later, those kids prepare their kids for the "Aww cute moment".

ithellam sagajam in politics !

Tyler Durden said...

I wonder how we would have reacted if our parents wrote a blog that said "deepavali is so stupid, that aryan/vadakkathi krishnan killed our dravidan/thamizhan narakasuran" followed by comments that read "totally agree. thamizhan faking too much, i looove pongal", "kathala ezhundu shower-la kulichuttu ganga snanam apdinra ambience, thevayaa ??" and "sweet venumna vangi sapidu, adhukenna hypocrisy".

i agree with sundar, it could be peer pressure. but does an 18-month old (need to) understand what it means?

not condoning the countless "independence day celebrations - bhangra music & broiler chicken" parties, they probably deserve all the sarcasm. But I am sure we wouldn't have appreciated "I dont think the children will be disappointed" when we were children. I will stop before this comment beats the blog in size.

PS: Nolan begins work on Batman 3 with Gordon-Levitt rumored to play the Riddler. Do you smell a blockbuster brewing?

Sundar Narayanan said...


idhukke aluthutta eppidi?

someday you will stand in line to get a photo with Dora..

was going through my old archives to see if I ever said I liked halloween..

the answer is not really. it has been a "learn to accept" thing for the sake of your kids..

thought this link would cheer you up ?!

Praveen said...

loved ur post buddy!!! Keep it up!!

I said...

Oorodu ondri vaazh nu valuvar sollirkaru. Trying to fit sometimes goes over.

Alan Smithee said...

I always forget when halloween is and forget to buy candies. This has lead to many embarrassing moments. Once I said "trick" and the kid got pissed off. She was like "give me my candy and I will be on my way". Another time I gave a kid a piece of leftover cake. It usually ends up being a "Venkatrama Govinda". At least those kids woke up early in the morning and get a cold shower.

Sowmya said...

Wait till you meet the tooth fairy. Let me know if you coughed out money for every tooth that your kid lost.

Arvind said...

I'm a sucker for anything that makes life fun! Definitely enjoyed Halloween in the Bay Area - miss the candy corn, pumpkin ale and my old roomie's awesome pumpkin pies. Wont be doing anything for Halloween this year though. However Deepavali looks to be awesome. You lose something and gain something else! :)

D.N.A. said...

Touche. Your post reminded me of Goundar's reaction to "holi pandigai". Same difference.

Alan, "Venktaraman Govinda" comment supremely funny...

Anonymous said...

Bollywood heard you.

Anonymous said...

Sorry Brother, I have to disagree. I used to be a staunch Desi but after a few years and some incredible American friends later, I genuinely started appreciating this country and its sometimes quirky traditions. Sure, i dont believe in dressing up as a ghost or decorating my yard with gravestones (it is abasagunam!) But whats wrong with stocking up some candy and saying hi to the kids in the neighborhood? there was such a wonderful family party atmosphere in the midwestern suburb i used to live in; I miss that in my bay area condo now. Assimilating is not such a bad thing - its not always done by wannabes, sometimes, you really learn to like new things

cram said...

guess this is one of those meaningless, mindless things that idiot yankees enjoy, like baseball and american football, or valentine's day.

vellaikaranukkuthan mandaila masala illenna namma makkalukku enga pochu arivu?

aduthathenna...hannukah va? ulagam urupta maathirithan.

i always wonder why desis are ok with xmas and halloween but not ramzan! athuvum assimilation thaane.

nanban said...

"The word reminds me of mindless 'saaraya bottil' teenagers (and other adults with low I.Q.) who have fun by claiming to have fun."

Pure pearl of wisdom.

loose vasu said...

I get the boys who celebrate Halloween to get some girl drunk and then try and get her laid. That I respect.


Anonymous said...

I can understand some ppl detesting Halloween, but to knock it off like its stupid to do anything related to
halloween is stretching it.. You are looking at it from a grown up perspective where u think ppl do it to get laid.. How different
is this from Holi or Manja Thanni thiruvizha if its only for impressing girls? You have to look at it from a kid's persepective. the kids have so much fun in doing this..
when your kids grows up and he/she's 4-5 years old, you will get to know the joy and satisfaction they get doing trick or treat..

These man made celebrations and greeting card holidays like paddy's day, halloween, valentine's day, father's day, mother's day,
dog day, keep day is part of their culture and keeps them occupied when there is really nothing else to do.
There are lots of local businesses and ppl who benefit from these holidays... The American Calendar has been developed in a way that
people have something to do and something to cheer for through out the year.. Even their sporting calendar has been designed in a way where there is some sporting
activity throughout the calendar year... Why should there be a valid religious reason for celebrating a holiday ? Just because some idiotic desi asked your halloween plans about ur 18 month old doesnt mean that every desi who joins in the celebration is idiotic.. You can still have fun without over-doing it just for the kids..

- Blackaccord

Anonymous said...

Nice post :-)
I can understand how much you got affected by desi people and also with thayirsatham and puliyodharai

Nappinnai NC said...

You probably need a 'shot' of liquor or pAnagam/nIrmOr to cool yourself:-) Fun is just to be onself, doesn't care if he is genius or ignorant. Just as you're lunatic about thayir sAdham & puLiyOdharai, some others are about Halloween. I agree with couple of other readers. Most of the celebrations are cooked up by human beings.

We celebrate Deepavali. If one truly understands the message behind it, we wouldn't have this much illiteracy in India especially in Science/spirituality. Crap is there in all societies/religions. Not to forget about the 'crap' part of the shrAddham for a woman. Our religion doesn't talk about ghosts or accidents either.

As such ppl are ghosts! They don't need a 'separate' costume. I do have X'mas tree b'coz I love green/nature, lights, so want to bring it inside. Its a time of 'giving'. One can do some local charity works too. I celebrate few Indian festivals given that there are zillion Gods and festivals associated with those!

As long as ppl do it for themselves and not 'hypocrisy', its fine. Most of the ppl spend their life trying to satisfy others!

If you don't like, don't go to such parties. Everybody has the right to lead his/her life the way one wants. I have stopped going to parties of all kinds as my first problem is with food and i don't eat any solid food after 6PM and I could no longer bear the stupidities involved.

If you think Halloween is similar to some of our wildest dances in mariaththa temples or other places, you will be fine...Make sure you don't fall into the same rut:-)

BTW, what else can you expect from ppl here, when for every 5 hours of cable news, one minute is devoted to science! No wonder in high school science education around the globe, US is ranked 23..

Kanaka Sabapathy said...

blackaccord & Tyler,

Now that nappinnai has put forth her views on this topic how do you feel about being "on the same page"?

Do you now feel the same way about the intellectual horsepower of people who celebrate halloween?

Anonymous said...

If you don't like it don't celebrate it, you are one person who anyway will not be invited to any party soon!

Tyler Durden said...

Kanaka Sabapathy,

"Now that _I_ have put forth my views" would have been much better :-).

Nevertheless, Why does someone need "intellectual horsepower" to celebrate a festival unless said festival is a dissertation on Stephen Hawking's works? People celebrate Maatu Pongal (read: eat previous day's meendhu pona pongal and go watch a pongal release film in devi complex). Is everyone without cattle at home a hypocrite?

I fail to understand how having the kid's (assuming said kid is the poster's own - hawkeye can clarify) costumed picture on Facebook is any different from, say, having a blog to write what one feels or to comment on that blog anonymously. Wait, I take it back. It is most definitely better than the last.

Hawkeye said...


what should i clarify here? that my wife certainly doesnt care about halloween and was not the desi woman mentioned here ?

i am losing track of analogies here. several hops in those. what are we supposed to be doing which is inconsistent with deriding halloween? Why should that preclude us from criticisng hallowen?

Tyler Durden said...


You had mentioned that "dressing babies up as ghosts and posting those photos in facebook is probably the most loser thing ever".

As long as said baby is the agmark-original-official-legal baby of the person who posts the picture (which is what you obviously meant - people posting their baby pictures, i concede i suck at tongue-in-cheek) as against someone else's baby, it is no different from someone posting their opinion on their blog (as against someone else's opinion). Both parties want others to look at their 'work' (pictures, opinions) and wouldn't mind a "cho chweeeeet" or "well written". If that wasn't the intention, the former would carry a passport-size photo in his purse like Idhayam Murali or an Anbulla Diary like Aalavandhan Kamal.

I am with you on criticism. Nothing, even multi-hop analogies, should preclude anyone from criticizing :-). I just thought Arundhati Roy deserves it much more than some hapless Arjun Ramakrishnan who posted his child's picture on Facebook.

Hawkeye said...


I see where you are coming from now. I think not everything that falls in a particular category need to be treated on par.

for example the category " Both parties want others to look at their 'work' (pictures, opinions) and wouldn't mind a "cho chweeeeet" or "well written". "

this could include Einstein presenting his work in front of other scientists to spielberg making a movie for others to see to bloggers to facebook-halloween-babie-photo-posters.

At some point different people will start discriminating across the spectrum and calling one activity more stupid than the other. this is natural.

by dissing one part of a spectrum in a category i am not disisng an entire category

Santhiya said...

Well, if I may be so bold, Halloween is just a festival/celebration. It has many reasons why it came into existence just like the festivals in India. But along the way, it was changed and reformed into a festival that can be enjoyed by the people of that time.

Notice that Navaratri/Diwali, Halloween, and Day of the Dead (spanish) kinda occur at the same time. Its all surrounding the same theme and the difference is just what country or what group of people started it.

Thanksgiving and Christmas and even Christmas are traditions started for a particular reason to help the people of the times but due to modern politics, peer pressure and all that, they have lost their true meaning just like some Indian festivals.
Like Nappinnai said, Christmas is all about giving and enjoying the good things in life, plants, family.

vicky said...

Halloween is a festival? never heard of that one before..

all I know is its free candy time on oct 31st (unlike something which is hard to remember)

Hawkeye said...


i am into the whole 'fun' thing. there are a lot of things people do for fun. rafting, bungee jumping, air gliding, bhangra parties, eve teasing, drunken driving, setting stuff on fire. At some point certain people draw a line and decide to reject certain 'fun activities'. For me halloween is a little bit silly and ridiculous. I am finding it hard to see it as 'fun'. if i do it would only be bcause of peer pressure. not because i like it. I don't see why I should feed this nonsense to my children.

I wouldn't have been so vocal against it - if not for the fact that now people think celebrating halloween is sign of 'normal' behaviour and not celebrating it is abnormal and 'difficult'. that gets my goat.

Kokki Kumarru said...

Master stroke. U go to their parties for puliodhurai and thayirsatham.

/I get the boys who celebrate Halloween to get some girl drunk and then try and get her laid. That I respect./ semma kalai sir..

I still wonder how ppl frm cities like banglore lose their sense of identity and ape white ppl and adapt things which sometimes are outright ludicrous. Delhi alungala pathi sollave thevala.. They lost it. And adding more irony is the fact that white amerrikans celebrate certain festivals like thanksgiving which can never be theirs. Pavonya aborigines.. It should be actually termed Thanklessgiving..

Anonymous said...

I've overheard many desis ask this question in the grocery shops... especially in Bellevue's Apna Bazaar :-). I've *never* heard them ask: What are you plans for Sivarathiri/Vaikunda Ekathasi?

My wife was really excited about dressing up the kid and bringing her over to Microsoft. The kid was also happy. To me, their joy was more important that the festival/event. Halloween indeed made the day for us.

Looking forward to Deepavali. Planning to go to Seattle Tamil Sangam.

Anonymous said...

Uh-oh! You've done it now! How dare you express an opinion that contradicts those of others who look like you?! What are you, American? :)

Good job! I love these posts of yours.

Asha said...

I enjoyed your post. You are absolutely right about halloween being celebrated in India but not just in upmarket areas of Chennai and bangalore but it is also celebrated in the so called international schools in India where diwali and id are not so keenly celebrated.

Thanks to globalisation i now find more americans(read westerners) amongst our own Indians.

Swamy Srinivasan aka Kittu Mama said...

all stupid peer pressure and those peers are mostly women and that women is mostly wife....phew...i hate halloween and walking along with kids in that freezing cold with modern pichai basket is crazy stuff...but yeah, kids enjoy it. kids will enjoy anything that is silly..eventually its the most silliest day :)...