In Pakistan, Halloween is celebrated primarily to escape the realities of life, even if only for a night
very year, on October 31, some Lahoris, mostly young and English-speaking, set out to celebrate the ‘scariest’ night of the year. It’s for Halloween, originally a European event dedicated to remembering the dead, including saints (hallows), martyrs and the departed. Halloween celebration is common in most of the Western countries, but in recent times it’s become a fun night for the party-hoppers in this part of the world too.
From DJs that light up the dance floor with music ranging from party Bollywood to Michael Jackson’s thrilling hits, to diverse catering that varies from spookily decorated confectionaries to pumpkin-spice lattes; these parties pack a lot of fun.
In Pakistan Halloween is celebrated primarily to escape the realities of life, even if only for a night. Dressed up as different characters from horror and slasher movies, the partiers spend hours on the dance floor, besides gorging on food and drinks. The fashionable elite, in particular, don’t hold back when it comes to costumes. Lace, leather, fur and glitter are key elements in their outfits.
Although the idea of wearing costumes was originally meant to ward off the ghosts, it has now transcended into a competition for creativity and originality. The makeup gurus go all out creating looks that depict human skeletons, vampires and cartoon characters. Couples are also seen dressed up as ‘pairs’ — for instance, as the Joker and Harley Quinn from DC comics, or Belle and the Beast (from Beauty and the Beast). Costumes, besides being a way to showcase individuality, also help people mask their routine selves and escape their realities, albeit momentarily.
Parties are a great way to diversify your social life and network with people beyond your immediate circle. Lahori Halloween parties succeed at doing just that. Even if it’s about discussing the background of your costume with someone over a round of hand-cooked sliders, or debating whether Ross and Rachel were on a break or not while enjoying the DJ’s tunes, these parties are a great place to meet new people and learn about their opinions and perspectives.
Alternatively, they act as a platform for pre-existing friend groups to get closer, through group costumes or dancing together for hours, because who doesn’t want an excuse to loosen up and dance the night away with their mates?
Halloween in Lahore can be considered the unofficial welcome for the winter season. With the nights getting chilly and people layering their clothes, Halloween serves to mark the end of the fall and gearing up for everything that winter has to offer. With fairy lights and faux spider webs hanging outdoors for decorative purposes, it’s traditional for people to gather around a bonfire, roast marshmallows, and tell scary stories, to truly awaken the Halloween spirit. Typical Western Halloween foods include candy corn, caramelised apples, and pumpkin pies. Most desi parties offer a localised menu ranging from live barbecues to an assortment of decorated cupcakes.
Dwelling deeper into the desi-fication of Halloween, we can analyse how Pakistanis add their own twist to Western Halloween traditions. From costumes based on characters from the loud Lollywood films of yore to bhangra on the dance floor, desis make sure to cover all fronts.
This year too, many sLahoris are excited to unpack their ghost-shaped buntings, come up with the best Maula Jatt-inspired costumes, create Halloween Spotify playlists and throw grand parties.
The writer is a student of law, politics, and economics. Her areas of interest include advocacy for women’s rights, European history and culinary arts