Wrinkled brows, scorching cuts and decisive strokes greeted me as I went upstairs a few days before Diwali. We have to get started on our Halloween decorations, said the daughter cutting out a spider. The toddler son was lying on his stomach on the floor, helping his sister by coloring the ghost she had cut out from white paper, white. A cozy, merry scene with the sunlight streaming in from the windows.

When bees create their colonies, I am sure they didn’t care about a little mess. Neither did my bee-lings. I navigated the crayons strewn on the floor and walked past the strands of paper littering my path to peek at the objects of art.

A morose skeleton was being drawn and I shuddered at the image. I hated to damp out their enthusiasm, but I said, “Sorry guys. That weekend is Diwali and I won’t have skeletons and cobwebs hanging off the front door on Diwali.” (This year, Diwali fell on a week-end and Halloween the day after, on a Monday.) A mutinous roar went up. “Amma–Diwali is the opposite of Halloween. It is the festival of lights. You’ll put up those little diyas everywhere and light everything up and then you’ll make everyone dress up beautifully–it is the complete opposite of Halloween”.

I disagreed. They may be celebrated differently, but they are both meant to fight evil. Ward off evil–whatever. The concept is to banish your demons. Even the inner demons. So, Diwali and Halloween are like that Yin-Yang thing. Black and white together. Both are there in us and in the world around us. I felt like a teapot spouting philosophy from my long snout to a couple of trouts in the stream. I sometimes think children must feel we played tag with Confucius and hide-and-seek with Buddha. I tried desperately to gain ground again.

You can always find light in the darkest of places if only you remember to turn on the lights. Do you remember who said that?

Albus Dumbledore in Harry Potter And The Prisoner of Azkaban

“Albus Dumbledore!” sighed the daughter. “Dementors–yes! Maybe we will do dementors also this time”.

“Also Voldemort–we can draw Voldemort and hang him outside,” piped the toddler son. He has no fear of He-who-must-not-be-named, and his sister beamed with pride at her little Gryffindor brother.

Guys! Guys! I won’t have Voldemort hanging on my front porch on Diwali either. Does Halloween have to be gory? Think of some themes and see if you can come up with decor that does not drip blood. Something positive, a call to action and also save our souls. How about that? I said.

When the daughter said, “Fine,” I left them to their own devices and pottered around the house.

I must say that I was mighty impressed with the resulting effort.


“We picked your favorite theme-nature, amma. So, you can put up some of this stuff for Diwali too. Then after Diwali, the next day, we can quickly put up bats and pumpkins all around and we are set,” she said.

I agreed. On the Diwali rangoli, we placed a large pumpkin surrounded by little lamps. The rain helpfully washed away the rangoli that very night leaving a damp, morose spot for the pumpkin the next day. All very satisfying. Happy Diwali and Happy Halloween. May we learn to take care of our world, the living beings we share it with, and balance our yin and yang for a beautiful whole.

This article was originally published November 3, 2016 and pulled from our archives.