Do Indian’s celebrate Halloween? The short answer is: No. The long answer involves an explanation of the afterlife according to Hinduism and the season of Pitru Paksha.
Pitru Paksha is a 16 day period during which Hindus pay hommage to and perform a ceremony called Shraddha to keep the souls of their ancestors at rest. Often it is a son performing the ceremony in honor of a father. The exact date depends on the lunar calendar, but this year it was observed from September 30th through October 15th.
Many Hindus believe that after a person dies their soul is moved by Yama, the god of death, to a holding place. Three generations are in this holding place, and these souls leave the holding place to reside with their descendants on earth during this period of Pitru Paksha.
Upon the death of the fourth generation, his soul taken to the holding place and the soul of the first generation is then moved to heaven and unites with god. Therefore, no longer requiring the Shraddha to be made in his honor. If a living son does not perform the Shraddha to his ancestors, their soul may become restless and wander the earth instead of returning to the holding place.
Many Hindus believe the performing of the Shraddha is mandatory for the deceased soul to be allowed into heaven. In this context, one Hindu scripture, the Garuda Purana, writes “there is no salvation for a man without a son”.
As you can see, the Pitru Paksha is very different than the American holiday of pumpkin carving, candy and costumes. Although, some offices in India will host small Halloween parties for their employees who have become familiar with the holiday from their stays in the US and other countries.
As you celebrate Halloween this year, think of Pitru Paksha and pray for the many Vision Nationals’ church planters working among Hindus.
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