24 October 2007


One week from today is 31 October, a significant date for all of us Sikhs. In North America, it is also the date of the second most celebrated holiday (Christmas is first) of the year. I realise that readers inother parts of the world may never have heard of this nightmare holiday, so I will attempt to explain it.

It is Hallowe'en, which is an abbreviation of All Hallows' Eve. All Saints' Day or All Hallows' Day is on 1 November of the Roman Catholic calendar. This is a day set aside to honour all the dead saints. The night before, however, evolved into a time to honour everything evil. I am not going to give a history of Hallowe'en here; if you're interested, here is an excellent website.

I am going to talk about the current celebration. Dressing in costumes is the biggest deal. Traditional costumes are things such as devils, witches, ghosts, skeletons and the like. Modern costumes might be anything - from space aliens to monsters to royalty. Little girls often favour the princess or the ballerina. All dressed up and then what?

Most kids love Hallowe'en.They get to go trick-or-treating, which is simply going from house to house, knocking on the door. When the door is opened, the children shout 'Trick or treat!' The adults are expected to make over the kids, complimenting their costumes and pretending not to know who they are. Then they put candy in the containers the children have brought for that purpose. The name, however, means 'give me a treat or I'll play a trick on you. I don't think that's taken very seriously, though, as I have always ignored Halloween and no one has hassled me.

Parties are also popular for all ages. One traditional Halloween game is dunking for apples. Apples are placed in a tub of water. Hands behind the back, the person is supposed to use their mouth to retrieve an apple.

The haunted house is another Halloween favourite. The point here is to scare people. In a darkened room, a person might put their hand into a bowl of pealed grapes and be told they're human eyeballs. Or long, cooked, oiled pasta might be 'intestines. Human skeletons might jiggle around. Blood-curdling screams are heard. You get the idea.

Often teenagers light firecrackers and smoke bombs boom bombs are much in evidence. Our neighbourhood tends to look, sound and smell like a war zone.

It is also a time when a lot of inhibitions are loosened. Alcohol is consumed in great quantities. Murders, rapes, muggings and other violent crimes abound. Across the street from us lives a 'man' - I call him 'the maggot' - who tried to rape his next-door neighbour girl last summer. He hasn't been around much; everybody knows about it and he isn't safe around here. Nobody, including me, will have anything to do with him. Her brothers beat him up rather thoroughly, but stopped short of killing him. I have no idea how his court case is going, but the charges against him - attempted rape, contributing to the delinquency of a minor, supplying a minor with a controlled substance, supplying alcohol to a minor - are serious enough to send him to prison for many years. I am very apprehensive as to what may happen to his house next Wednesday.

I hate Halloween.

More On Maya - Personal Thoughts

An aside: While looking for pictures I came across something I thought I should alert you to. It is a group of Adventists, evidentally centred in Surrey, British Columbia, who have decided they'd like to convert us to their brand of Christianity. This website post from April this year gives some interesting insights into their methods. You might like to check it out.

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Continuing my theme from yesterday.

So what is it that separates me - myself, me personally, I won't try to speak for anyone else - from God? The Five Great Vices, of course. What else? But let me be more specific. Not all are equally troublesome. I will pick the three that give me the most headaches.

EGO. I had thought maybe I had made a little progress here, until I had that stroke in April, 2006. I learned how self-centred and egotistical I really am. For a long time, I was very reluctant to go in public. I look funny and move funny and run into things and PEOPLE STARE AT ME! And the worst is when they talk to me as if I were mentally deficient. ME! GENIUS ME! OK, I have lost my languages and still have a lot of relearning to do, I admit. I am working on that. I am slowly relearning Gurmukhi. (I wonder why that is so difficult for me?) Even now, it is difficult for me to go to gurdwara because it embarrasses me that I can't bow properly and getting up and down on the floor requires assistance. This is just a small thing, I know, but it is a symptom of a much deeper and larger problem. And I am so proud to be able to admit that. Yow, this ego thing is a slippery problem.

ANGER. Yes, I am angry. After all these years, I am still seething with anger. And my anger is completely justified. Everyone I know agrees with that. My family was murdered for no good reason and I was nearly killed, as well. My friends encourage me to hold on to this anger as both natural and righteous. Perhaps. But forgive me if I quote Dr. Phil: 'Would you rather be right or happy?' Certainly, it's hard to be happy even on this earth while weighed down with a load of anger and hatred. And knowing that is separating me from God adds guilt to the load, as well. Am I justified in my anger? Perhaps. But is it useful to me on my journey home? I think not.

ATTACHMENT. This is the real cause of the anger, I think. I am still attached to my dead loved ones. Although I have a loving husband, I still long for the one who is at home and, I'm sure, at peace. I still ache for my son, my perfect young boy man, so much like the best of his father and grandfather, and maybe a little of me in there, too. My two baby daughters. I never even got to hold them, nurse them, find their names. And my brothers, especially Bert; he was my best friend, the person I could talk to, who had always been there for me, who understood me and always took me seriously, even while seeing everything with a sense of humour


There's the list. Ego is slippery and hard to deal with. Anger feels so justified. Attachment is a sort of sweet melancholy. What to do? What to do? I know. I feel my Guru Ji whispering in my ear. Ardaas. Simran. Action. Perseverance. Chardi Kala.

I think this is enough self-reflection for one day. I hope it isn't merely self-indulgence to post it on the Inter net. (Ego again.)


Top- I use a brain to symbolise pride because I have always been proud of my intellect. But this is not just any brain! This is the brain of Albert Einstein.

Middle - I use a nuclear mushroom cloud to symbolise anger. I think this needs no explanation.

Bottom - Anyone recognise what this is? What I use to symbolise attachment is a microscopic view of Velcro being torn apart.