About 50 years ago, when I was a small boy, the most loved and awaited celebration of the year was Christmas; then few decades later Santa Claus appeared, a commercial figure that now unfortunately almost replaced Baby Jesus. I never liked him so much and… what he has to do with the birth of Jesus, after all?
Many years ago here in Italy nobody “celebrated” Halloween, it was just something somebody did in far away places, and it was weird.
But now welcoming people, at the front gate of a shopping mall, I saw standing triumphantly a big Santa Claus together with a witch! I went inside and for the first time in my life I saw so may costumes of ghosts, vampires, and then skulls, witches, bloody faces, putrified monster, brains and even a “miniskirted ghostly nun”. What kind of madness is this? I thought. A very young girl was enthusiastically looking for a proper costume, and the shop lady went near her to help. With a very sweet smile and a motherly tone she asked, “This is a corpse, this is a demon, aren’t they nice? What you prefer to put on?”
And not only that, for Halloween I heard of coffin cakes, skull cookies and all sort of distasteful, repelling looking foods. And I imagine videos and horror movies.
Maybe Halloween had some religious or positive symbolic meaning at first, now it became a very good business with millions of euro of income. Maybe it is the attempt to make horror and even death a fun, something to joke about. An attempt to “kill” death. But horror and fear don’t go away in this way. Horror only disappear when we understand who we really are and we are absorbed in chanting, praying and perceive the presence and protection of God, or Krishna, in our lives.
People now generally do not believe in ghosts, witches and subtle presences, it is all an harmless joke, and many now do not believe even in heaven or hell. A website reader wrote:
“If a person treats Halloween as worshipping the devil and imaginary creatures like vampires, witches, werewolves, etc, then yes it’s a bad holiday. But most of the USA treats it as a fun night, dressing up and walking around for candy. We do not worship any other God. I have never seen any evil spirit on Halloween. It’s fun for the whole family to decorate and hang lights. And if there are such imaginary creatures, why are they only out 1 night a year?”
Note the word imaginary. Haloween can be certainly “celebrated” at many levels, maybe softer ones. But ironically, dressing as sinister creatures, we attract them in our lives, because, they do exists, and even if they are not there, we attract anyway lower, negative and sinister thoughts in ourselves. I had a little experience of this, that night a monster appeared in my dream and he was scary. I woke up and fortunately he went quickly away.
The Bhagavad-gita tells clearly to stay away from attraction of the dark and the horror. If we dwell with horror, we will attract horror in our lives.
And, it could be interesting to reflect, what Srila Prabhupada would have think about Halloween?
And what about us, it is proper for our chlidren to celebrate Halloween? Sometimes, in certain countries it seems unavoidable, but devotees can somehow spiritualize it. Otherwise why to do it? It is a dangerous joke, you think you can joke with horror, but horror will not joke with you. It will overwhelm you.
Why for a day not dressing as angels, as good, loving people, instead of scary monsters? As devotees do, in white and orange dhotis, with bright faces, and with colorful saris. Halloween is also the all saints day, isn’t it? Do something saintly, help people in a special ways, give some present to them, dress as angels, smile, be kind, do some good deed, inspire others, give them some spiritual books, behave particularly well, hear of incredible people, generous and loving, have the the courage of be a good person! For a day! A God person. Try, it as a joke, for fun. We will attract goodness in our lives and becoming better persons, and feel good. Goodness it is not a weakness of the heart. No. It is a great strength, it is fascinating.
The the best image I have in mind of HaloWin, as I call it now, it is a very beautiful picture of the Panca Tattva Harinam party, no more horror words, but light, freedom, beauty, love, ecstasy, grace, charm, generosity, kindness. Hare Krishna!
Gopinath Prema das