The greatest Hindu festival Dashain has just come to an end this year and now, Halloween is just ‘round the corner. Many people must be getting ready to celebrate once again. The exact origin of this festival is unknown but there are many theories that involve Christian and pagan origins. In the Christian Church, 1st of November is “All Saints Day” also known as “All Hallows Day”. On this day, all the saints are remembered and revered. Similarly, the 2nd of November is observed as “All Souls Day” and people pray for all the souls of the people who have died , so that they may be able to enter the gates of heaven and gain eternal peace. Therefore, the eve before “All Hallows Day” is marked as “All Hallows Eve” popularly known as Halloween. It is a secular festival and has no religious connection to Christianity. Rather, it is believed to have been a pagan festival that marked the end of warm days and the beginning of the cold symbolizing the transition from life to death. It was believed that during this time, the barrier between the world of the living and the dead would be obscured and therefore, people dressed up as ghosts, evil spirits etc to confuse and ward off the actual evil spirits and keep them from doing harm.
Halloween is associated with everything from the netherworld. There are some who believe in the supernatural and some brush it off as being nothing more than imaginary stories. However, nobody knows what is really true because there is no scientific evidence to prove or disprove the existence of the supernatural. Anyway, every religion talks about good and evil and people all over the world have believed in it since ancient times. Stories of zombies, vampires, poltergeists, evil spirits, witchcraft/ wizardry etc are popular in the Western world. In local parlance, beings from the netherworld are known as kichkandi, bhoot, khyak, boksi etc and spooky stories regarding these beings keep circulating among people.
Regardless of their belief in the supernatural or lack of it, many people enjoy celebrating Halloween. Dressing up in costumes, making jack- o- lanterns and going trick or treating are some ways in which the day is celebrated. The trend is catching up among the youth in Nepal as well and although not celebrated in the traditional way, parties are organized in various places. In this globalized and fast paced world, people need every reason to celebrate, unwind and relax and maybe that’s why they never miss an opportunity to have fun regardless of whether it has any cultural or religious significance. However, like all other festivals, in recent times it has become highly commercialized and has lost some of its essence.