Halloween in Sri Lanka has gained increasing popularity with Sri Lanka’s younger generation, with many pre-schools and international schools holding Halloween parties, amidst complaints from parents and crying frightened children.
Mrs. Perera, a mother of two children below the ages of 10 years, said she felt ill at ease trying to make a monster costume for her son. She tried using rags and fabric paint, but nothing succeeded. “After spending 2 hours on the costume, I was tired and just painted some color on it,” she said, adding that although the kindergarten asked parents to make a fun costume with their children, her toddler son, did only little to help. This was the first time Mrs. Perera heard of such Halloween parties and at her son’s school! Weeks before the festival, the school invited parents to a meeting, and requested them to make children’s costumes and decor by hand.The parents also helped decorate the classroom with spiders, cobwebs, monster faces, eyeballs and witches. “My son was not afraid of that, but I heard that some little girl’s were scared and had nightmares,” said Mrs. Perera.
Another mother, Mrs. Dharmaratne, was very unhappy when she received a message from her daughter’s teacher asking her to prepare a Halloween costume for her 5-year-old. “At first I thought it was not suitable for the a preschool to expose children to such things as Halloween in Sri Lanka, which is not peaceful or friendly, like ghosts or evil spirits, and it’s not suitable for Sri Lankan culture” she said. Mrs. Dharmaratne avoided featuring terrifying elements when she prepared the costume. She chose a pumpkin costume, which she said was more neutral than a bloody mask, and an eye patch and a cloak, rather than the popular witch’s hat.
For parents who are unwilling to put time and effort into making a costume, they are available at many stores in Colombo or can be purchased online from various stores in the world and have it shipped. The basic idea behind Halloween as many parents suggest it, is to promote parent-child time in the name of Halloween!
Many educators at the local pre-school in Sri Lanka say that, preschools never used to celebrate Halloween events, but it pays more attention to traditional festivals in line with Sri Lankan culture, such as the Sinhalese New Year, Wesak Celebrations and Deepavali. Some teachers say that private and International schools with foreign teachers and students tend to celebrate Western festivals. It’s common for children from Western countries to get excited and wear spooky costumes, while Sri Lankan children dress as cartoon figures or Disney characters. It’s more like a mini-costume party.
Despite many parents supporting the event, there are many traditional parents who do express their discomfort and unhappiness. Those who are in support of Halloween look at it as a way for children to learn about a foreign festival and different customs and cultural diversity.
While, others look at as a ridiculous gimmick to commercialize the whole event and in the process ignore the Sri Lankan culture and traditional upbringing.
What do you think about Halloween?
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