Halloween 2008

Halloween – Of pumpkins and horror! How strange, when you come to think of it, that something as cute and harmless as a pumpkin should be associated with horror!

Halloween is non existent in India. Back home, this was the day we were reminded to pray solemnly for the dead souls, that they may attain salvation. The day after All Souls Day, is All Saints Day, when we would specially pray to all saints. Nov 1 is also ‘Kerala Piravi’ – the day the state of Kerala (our home state) was created.

But here in the US, Halloween dwarfs every other reason to celebrate. This is when I bring out the Fall decorations and bid adieu to summer stuff. This is when heaps of round orange pumpkins appear in every grocery store. This is when you feel that first light chill on your cheek.

Last year was our first Halloween together in the US. We visited the J.E.Perry Farms in Fremont, bought a small pumpkin (after much research on ideal shape and size) and craved our very own Jack-O-Lantern. I made pumpkin pies and ‘Mathanga Erissery’ (a typical Kerala dish) with the flesh that came out of our Jack.

This year we went to San Francisco for Halloween. SF’s ‘Halloween in the Castro‘ (SF’s gay community) is very famous, attracting tens of thousands of people every year. But the celebrations were called off and people were asked to keep away from Castro Street in 2007, due to a shooting incident during the celebrations in 2006. And so I missed Castro Street festivities last year. Dilip has been to the Castro before and says it is a unique experience.

This year, celebrations in SF were repackaged as a ‘family event’ and was held near the AT&T Ball Park, away from Castro Street. There were costume contests and pie-eating contests for different age groups. There was a haunted house experience created on the premises and a number of stalls with all sorts of fortune telling and healing rituals. In one corner, popular horror flicks were screened on a big screen. What interested us most was a free photo booth sponsored by Wells Fargo – make faces at the camera and get an instant print out (the pic on the right).

This year I also tried my hand at making caramel apples, a sweet Halloween treat.

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