Wednesday, October 31, 2012

What You Shouldn't Be Dressed As Today


Today is Halloween in the US. For my non-US readers Halloween has become (I'm not talking history) a commercialized holiday in which children age 12 and under go out to either a community event or to their friends and families houses to get candy, toys, money, etc. When I was growing up we went to every door in our neighborhood that had a porch light turned on and said "Trick or Treat!" Then the resident there would come out, giggle or comment on our costumes and give us free candy.

Obviously kids love to get treats so most of us tried to keep doing this after age 12. By the time we hit high school we still dress up but we go to parties, dances and such. Or we take out our little brother or sister so we can still dress up. It's a lot of fun but there are also dangers as with anything else in life.

Popular costumes include witches, zombies, goblins, grim reapers and other dark and brooding characters. Among smaller girls you will see a lot of princesses as well. This year I'm dressed up as a detective and I have on a Sherlock Holmes hat and cape. I think this suits me lol. Yes, I'm too old to go out and get free candy but I still love to dress up and participate. I am going to a community function.

Early on in my relationship - and to my naive mind it seemed like a good idea - I thought about dressing up as one of the Hindu deities. I meant no disrespect and I've seen so many pictures, movies, etc. with depictions of the Gods and Goddesses. I saw people dress up for the festivities - adults and children alike - during many of he holidays I participated in while in India as well. So I was a little surprised when hubby told me it was not good to dress up as a deity for Halloween. (Yes, I'm clueless and very new to Hindu customs...don't shoot me! At least I can be honest and share what I learned with others who may not know.)

It's simply disrespectful. It doesn't matter if you're Indian, American, white, brown, yellow or even a blue Fugget of Kentucky, it's simply frowned upon by the Hindu community at large to dress up as a deity for any other reason than in the process of worship (whether that be at a temple ceremony or ofr a religious celebration.

I'm not even going to address cultural appropriation in this matter. Yes, some people may want to dress up because they think it's cool but I don't think cultural appropriation fits in this scenario. Unless of course you think it's okay to dress up as Radha because you're white and you fit the part. Then you're really treading on thin ice culturally. I'll address that topic a different day. But for now, I feel it's important to understand just how offensive dressing up like a deity would be to the Hindu culture worldwide.

I know there are a LOT of priest, nun and monk costumes on the market and while the Christian and Catholic churches tend to be very forgiving despite being offended (or appalled). It is still disrespectful but the Christian and Catholic communities will not react the same way to those costumes as the Hindu community will react to the deities. It's a cultural difference plain and simple. The Christian and Catholic churches both teach forgiveness not to judge others so most of them would just drop the issue - especially if you weren't doing anything offensive in the outfit or if it was a child.

Look at what happened to Heidi Klum when she dressed up as Kali. Yes, she's a star and it's not likely the entire Hindu community will come after you if you're not. BUT, you will offend the Hindu's in your local community and they could shun you completely. Remember you have to live and work in that community and it's just better not to go make a jerk of yourself in this manner.

If you feel it's important to dress up as a Hindu deity, please register yourself at your local Hindu temple and request to be a part of the upcoming ceremonies. I'm sure they can find a place for you if your intentions are sincere.

And now I'm off to enjoy my candy!! Hope you have a fantastic night!

For those of you interested in the history of Halloween or "All Hallows Eve" please visit the following links.

History Channel: Halloween
The Library of Congress Research Center: The Fantasy and Folklore of All Hallows
Halloween History

11 comments:

  1. Oh dear.
    I am hosting a little Halloween party at my son's school today. He is going dressed as Spiderman, I am wearing a black & white cow costume (complete with udder) with a garland of marigolds & a brilliant tikka on my forehead- I'm going to be a 'Holy Cow'.
    Hope I don't offend anyone!

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  2. Thnx for describing what Halloween is for non American people .its sounds so fun

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  3. I'm going as a serial killer. They look exactly like everyone else, so I don't need a costume ;)

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  4. Hopefully you didn't. Generally being a cow is a good thing (and used as a compliment) in India so hopefully people in Nepal feel as positive toward your desire to be more innocent and humble. :P

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  5. Lol. You scare me! Jk. I went as the shadow of death and scared some poor little girl. I felt soooo bad I took off my hood so she could finish walking away from the house she was at lol.

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  6. You don't dress as a Hindu deity for Halloween because these are still *living* gods and goddesses, in the sense that Hinduism is still an active and thriving religion. You can dress up all you want as Greek or Roman gods and goddesses, use their images on everything from flip-flops to toilet paper, because those religious traditions are no longer active and the images are no longer *actively* sacred. As a Hindu, I would never disrespect Jesus, Mary or Mohammed because they are still sacred to people worldwide. Whereas Zeus or Diana or Athena - sure, no problem,

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  7. I understand that but not everyone would. That's why I used the example of priests and nun costumes. We dress as religious figures a lot and in some religions those figures are revered just like Hindu deities. I think if I was Catholic I would be very offended about the sexy nun costumes especially.

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