Sunday 30 October 2011

Why Deepavali is better than Halloween (but not Independence Day)

Deepavali versus Halloween?

How did we come to this?

I remember a time when Halloween was like Thanksgiving and Independence Day – US holidays familiar to Singaporeans mostly as plot devices in Hollywood movies and TV shows.

But in recent weeks, some grumbled about seeing more decorations in Singapore for Halloween (which is tomorrow) than Deepavali (which was on Wednesday).

Halloween detractors regard the foreign holiday as an interloper, encroaching on the celebrations of a long-standing local holiday.

Halloween-themed events are being held around Singapore with at least two on Sentosa alone – Universal Studios’ Halloween Horror Nights and the Sentosa Leisure Group’s Sentosa Spooktacular.

Why the sudden fervor for all things mock scary?

I blame Wildlife Reserves Singapore (WRS).

By abruptly deciding to replace the popular Halloween Horrors event at Night Safari with a Deepavali-themed line-up, WRS unwittingly turned Halloween into the wronged underdog and Deepavali the unwelcomed interloper.

The irony is that in its clumsy rush to promote Deepavali, I fear WRS might have inadvertently diminished the holiday instead.

This is why I now feel the need to remind people why Deepavali is better than Halloween:

Deepavali is an actual public holiday – as in you get a day off from work or school. Halloween is not, even in the US.

2. Deepavali is the festival of lights. Halloween is the festival of black and orange.

3. I don’t like pumpkin.

4. Three words: no devil worshipping.

5. For Halloween, we get horror movie sequels like Paranormal Activity 3. For Deepavali, we get Ra One, reportedly India's most expensive blockbuster ever, starring Shah Rukh Khan as a Bollywood superhero.

I repeat, a Bollywood superhero. To quote Stan Lee, ’nuff said.

Unfortunately, despite the misgivings, I expect Halloween to get even more popular in Singapore in coming years.

Fortunately, Deepavali will be on Nov 13 next year, so no more Deepavali versus Halloween.

Unfortunately, in place of Deepavali, Hari Raya Haji takes over the Oct 26 date next year, so it will be Raya versus Halloween instead.

So a year from now, will my column be about how Hari Raya Haji is better than Halloween?

Aiyah, you know what I’m thinking? Why stop at just Halloween?

Since Singaporeans are already celebrating one US holiday, we might as well celebrate them all.

Here are a few to start:


This is probably the most important holiday for Americans apart from Christmas. But I don't think it will catch on with Singaporeans because it involves a lot of travelling, eating turkey and watching American football. (Go, Packers!)

Groundhog Day

This is the day when you wake up and it's the same day as yesterday.

Independence Day

Also known as the Fourth of July, this is no longer just an American holiday, thanks to Will Smith, Jeff Goldblum and US President Bill Pullman.

This was the day the world declared in one voice: “We will not go quietly into the night! We will not vanish without a fight! We're going to live on! We're going to survive! Today, we celebrate our Independence Day!”

And then we beat the aliens.

I’m sorry, but even Deepavali – or Shah Rukh Khan – can’t top that.

- Published in The New Paper, 30 October 2011

Very funny and enjoyable article. Really made my day. I was at Clarke Quay last night and somehow Halloween has become a costume party. With superman, princesses and prince charmings, playboy bunnies sexy busty policewomen, topless cowboys and clowns. Heehee.