Since the time we are in US, the pumpkins have been the most visible drawing our attention. It is so, as it is Halloween time. On Saturday, October 25 Shannon took us to one Halloween Patch in nearby fairground. Patch is something like a mini-fair. The main purpose of the patch is to sell pumpkins and along with that, some fun rides make it more attractive for the kids. Family visits it for fun and to see the kids enjoying it. With Rajesh joining us with Svanik, Emma enjoyed the rides and we got the experience of a small ‘mela’ (fair) in this distant place, Pleasanton.
Every family in US buys one or more pumpkins to add to the decoration of the Halloween. Each pumpkin costing anything between $ 2 to $18 is a good business for the farmers with million of pumpkins getting sold in pumpkin patches or roadside showrooms that come up in this time of Halloween. I don’t know how much of the money must be going straight to farmers.
Pumpkin carving is a routine exercise for Halloween. The most recognizable and popular symbol of Halloween is a pumpkin carved into a jack-o-lantern. When I tried to find entries on Pumpkin and Halloween on web, I got 10,700,000 entries. Images were 1,290,000. (I request readers to glance through the links.)
One of the entries says, “Halloween is a night for dressing up, telling ghost stories, having spooky parties, trick-or-treating. Pumpkin carving is an essential part of Halloween. Halloween is actually based on an ancient Celtic holiday known as Samhain (pronounced “sow wan”), which means “summer’s end”. It was the end of the Celtic year, starting at sundown on October 31st and going through to sundown November 1st.” l Malls and shops are full with Halloween specific items. And most of items are from China. It is an experience to appreciate how the Chinese have penetrated and taken advantages from the American consumerism for creating the work for their manufacturing sector. Why can’t Indian manufacturers get into it?
In India, pumpkin is a cheap vegetable. My grandfather considered it bad for health, whereas my mother grew it and liked it too. A single plant can produce a ton or more of crop. She used to plant some seeds in courtyard that would grow on the roof of the house. I remember my mother gifting it to many families, particularly for making vegetables in marriages.
Interestingly, the same website provides some more information about pumpkin in US too: “Pumpkins have been grown in America for over 5,000 years. Native Americans called pumpkins “isquotersquash.” And “pumpkins are not a vegetable – they are a fruit! Pumpkins, like gourds, and other varieties of squash are all members of the Cucurbitacae family, which also includes cucumbers, gherkins, and melons.”
I think some well-wishers of farmers would have promoted Pumpkin Patches and its popularity has grown with the prosperity of the country. It may appear funny, but it is a part of consumerism.
While I was discussing about the pumpkin- vegetable or fruit, Yamuna reminded me the love of my mother for this vegetable. Even in Hind Motor, whenever the servant or I myself would be going for buying vegetables, my mother would ask us in her own typical manner to bring a small portion of the pumpkin (called kumhara) too.
Will Indian society create similar farmer oriented festivals that becomes a national one? Surprisingly, Halloween has not become popular like many other festivals of western origins in Ind