IT’S HALLOWEEN MONTH!
Find out how the rest of the world celebrates Halloween in their own ways
By Agnes Aui
October has finally settled upon us. So has warm-coloured maple leaves, pumpkin patches, apple strudels and pumpkin spice lattes – all of which signifies the most important event in October, also known as Halloween. And though what comes to mind when we think of Halloween are carving pumpkins and trick-or-treating, little do we know of the different interpretations of Halloween all around the world. Here are some of them:
#1 HUNGRY GHOST FESTIVAL IN EAST ASIA
Hungry Ghost Festival is a traditional Buddhist and Taoist festival celebrated in certain East Asian countries. Distinct to the Qingming Festival, the Hungry Ghost Festival is believed to be the time that the deceased come to visit the living on earth. Many rituals are carried out during the festival including food offerings, burning incense, and burning of material items (made of paper) such as clothes and gold for the visiting spirits.
#2 DÍA DE LOS MUERTOS IN MEXICO
November 1-2 is when Mexico celebrates Día de los Muertos, also known as the ‘Day of the Dead’, to honour those who have passed away. On October 31, it is believed that the Gates of Heaven open up at midnight, allowing the souls of children to return and reunite with their families on Earth for 24 hours. Then, on November 2, the souls of the adults will return to Earth to join the festivity. During the festival, living family members prepare an altar filled with food and a special dish called pan de muerto (bread of the dead).
#3 PITRU PAKSHA IN INDIA
Pitru Paksha translates to ‘fortnight of the ancestors’ and is a 16–lunar day period in the Hindu calendar where Hindus
pay homage to their ancestors. In the Hindu religion, it is believed that when a person passes away, Yama (the Hindu god of death) takes their soul to purgatory where they’ll find their family’s last three generations. During Pitru Paksha, the souls are briefly allowed to return to Earth to be with their families. The ritual of Shraddha is commonly performed to ensure their family’s place in the afterlife. Food offerings are also given during this time.
#4 AWURU ODO FESTIVAL IN NIGERIA
The Awuru Odo Festival is celebrated for six months and is when the spirits of friends and family members who have passed away return back to Earth. The festival is celebrated with feasts, music and masks before the dead would have to adjourn back to the spirit world. The Awuru Odo Festival is an important event that happens once every two years, which is when the spirits are believed to have come back to Earth.
#5 OGNISSANTI IN ITALY
Ognissanti, also known as ‘All Saints’ is celebrated on November 1 and is a day dedicated to those who have passed away. During the festival, people visit cemeteries and leave fresh flowers on tombs of their loved ones and on old forgotten ones, lighting up the cemeteries with beautiful and bright colours. During sunset, Italians pay tribute to the departed by putting a red candle on the window and setting a place at the table for spirits they hope will pay a visit.