With BCS leader Ohio State (10-0, 6-0) at the top of theconference, the college football world’s eyes will be on the Big Ten and theBuckeyes as they attempt to remain perfect in the final two weeks. After theirwell documented struggles early on, the resurgent No.12 Michigan Wolverines(8-2, 6-0) will look to make a run at OSU and the Conference championship.Michigan would appreciate the help this weekend from conference rival Illinoisagainst the No. 1 team in the land before it takes on the Buckeyes next weekendin Ann Arbor.Illinois, too, would like to play spoiler this weekend asthey travel to Columbus to take on the Buckeyes. The Illini are familiar withplaying highly touted teams as they defeated then No. 5 Wisconsin in October.Illinois head coach Ron Zook does not necessarily see thisweek’s preparation as tantamount to any other circumstance.“Once again, we’ve got to take care of us,” said Zookduring the Big Ten teleconference Tuesday. “We told our team last night that theonly different thing is that you are preparing for the No. 1 team in thenation. The only thing that means is that you are preparing for an awfully goodfootball team. We’ve still got to do the things that we’ve done to get to thispoint.”Sitting in third place in the conference, Illinois islooking to continue its winning streak after two consecutive victories,including last week’s 44-17 stomping of Minnesota.”We know that we’re not what we are supposed to be, but weknow we are improving,” Zook said. “The one thing that that gives us is anopportunity as a program to see that we have made progress from the first gamethis year to now.”Now, we have to go see where we are, and this will be agreat measuring stick for us.” While OSU will look to stay unbeaten and play for a NationalChampionship, three Big Ten teams — Michigan State, Iowa and Northwestern — arestill searching for their highly coveted sixth win and Bowl eligibility.Northwestern hosts Indiana, Iowa faces Minnesota, but MichiganState faces the toughest challenge at Purdue. Even though the multitude ofthese Bowl games are often considered trite, all three schools would enjoy theopportunity to reach them in order to improve as football programs.”I think it’s very important we get to a bowl game,”Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio said. At the same time, Dantonio emphasized the importance oftaking the football season one step at a time.”We’ve been sort of stuck on No. 5 for quite some time here,so we’ve been talking about it just as a reality,” Dantonio said. “We’re goingto continue to play it through. It’s got to go one play at a time.”Other teams in the Big Ten — Purdue, Wisconsin and PennState — are just trying to remain focused and jockey for a position that wouldplace them in a more prestigious bowl game like a trip to Tampa Bay for theOutback Bowl. Penn State plays out of conference at in-state rival Templethis week. These games have become common late in the season. Because of these quirks in the schedule, cellar-dwellerMinnesota (1-9, 0-6) has more to look forward to than Penn State, as they playin two straight “trophy” games against Iowa and Wisconsin. “I know since I’ve been on the job that I’ve learned a greatdeal about the trophy games and how important they are to all Minnesotans andhow important they are to the University of Minnesota to go play well againstIowa and win,” Minnesota head coach Tim Brewster said. “We have the Floyd ofRosedale here in our presence today, and we’d like very much to keep that pigright here in the Twin Cities.”These next two weeks will be amazing weeks for us allbecause we’ll be playing big rivalry games against Iowa and Wisconsin. It’swhat college football is all about.”With Minnesota still playing for pride, a pig and axe,three teams fighting for bowl eligibility, and the No. 1 team in the nationlooking to stay atop college football, the coming weeks promise to be excitingfor football in the Big Ten.
Many an op-ed and satires have been written about the rise of Halloween in India. Most of them express curiosity, some absolute bemusement and some horror at a trend they are attributing to a generation growing up on American sitcoms like Friends and How I Met Your Mother, all of which have Halloween special episodes.However, for most NRIs who have returned to the country, it is a source of nostalgia for a festival they used to celebrate with aplomb during their stay abroad. Preetha J Sebastian, a graduate student in Bengaluru who now studies in Dartmouth, grew up in a thriving community in Dubai where trick-or-treating became an essential part of her childhood. “I wore the same witch costume every year,” she told Little India.The apartment complex Sebastian lived in while working in Bengaluru, to her delight, celebrated the festival. “When Halloween came around, it became harder to be an adult. I had to be the one buying candy to give away to the neighborhood kids, which was a harsh reality to face. Some of the children didn’t even dress up! But, eventually, I found joy in giving away candy. I was too big to fit into my child-size witch costume anyway.”Sebastian’s condominium complex was not the only one honoring the spirit of the dead. Shruti Narayanan, a dancer based in Bengaluru, says her community, which is a home to a lot of expats and returned NRIs like herself, celebrates Halloween every year. “There is constant merriment because you can hear the kids and teenagers running around and saying trick or treat,” she says. But the children only ask only at houses that have print-outs stuck outside saying, “Sweetmeats available,” since many Indian families in the neighborhood don’t get the concept and don’t celebrate the occasion.Agrees Suman Kumar, a stand-up comedian who is looking to buy a zombie costume for his daughter this year, “Some families just don’t know the idea behind the festival,” he says, recounting how his neighbor just looked at kids blankly when they asked him for a trick or treat. “What he understood was that they wanted chocolates, which he gave them,” Kumar says.Preetha J Sebastian as Death from Neil Gaiman’s Sandman.Lakshmi Selvakumaran, who did her Ph.D. in Saudi Arabia, recalls her experience of confused India families who did not have a stock of candies ready. “They end up giving the children leftover Diwali sweets or gulab jamuns just because someone has come to their house,” she says.Narayanan attributes the confusion to just the lack of knowledge among Indians about the Halloween tradition of trick-or-treating, which involves a threat made by the child, about whether the hosts would like mischief or to give them a treat. “Some houses here don’t even want to bother opening the door,” she reveals. “So what they do instead is fill a pot with chocolates or toffee and leave it outside for kids to come and take.”Even though themed parties are mushrooming in hotels and clubs in metropolitan cities in India, people generally don’t have much knowledge on why Halloween – All Hallows Eve — is celebrated, if at all. “Not many of them know that Halloween came from the earlier cultures of worshiping the dead,” says Ankur Huralikoppi, an engineer based in California, where he sees celebrations every year. “It was thought that spirits are fond of kids, and on that day pleasing kids meant keeping the spirits happy.”So while the occasion, which is observed the day before All Saints Day on Nov. 1 and All Souls Day on Nov. 2, is a time to honor recently-departed souls who are yet to reach heaven, it has been overshadowed by the bonhomie associated with costumes and make-up. Says Sean Pereira, a business professional, “While the costume parties have caught on, Christians just go to mass and visit the graves of their loved ones.”And costume parties have caught on indeed. Every year, there is a new restaurant or bar holding a Halloween-theme night. Cafe Out of the Box in New Delhi has been hosting Halloween parties since 2010. Every year, they make signature cocktails, and name them according to the theme. For example, Dracula’s Blood is a Bloody Mary with a twist. “We usually play around with our interiors, try to make it look spooky,” Priyank Sukhija, the cafe’s owner, told IANS in an earlier interview. “The turnout has always been huge with a mix crowd, including expats.”Not to be left behind, The Junction in Haus Khas Village in the Indian capital, is hosting a warehouse party this year with a mental asylum-themed decor with prizes for the “spookiest” dressed person. In Mumbai, Halloween is an opportunity for people to party, with many hotels hosting DJ nights, from the Taj to the Marriott.Bengaluru, on the other hand, which has a thriving community of expats and returned NRIs, sees Halloween parties at every nook and corner of the city. Advertising professional Aakanksha Bhattacharya was a regular at such parties while she lived in Mumbai, and is looking forward to having more fun now that she is moved to Bengaluru.While Arbor Brewing Company in the city has been hosting a party every year with themed menu and drinks, the newer pub Koramangala Social will organize its first themed party for Halloween this year. Harry Potter, more often than not, is a staple costume for a lot of people, says Samrudhi Sridharan, a researcher for an NGO based in the city. “I dress up as Hermione Granger every year. It is the easiest costume to put together and it is a character I relate to.”It doesn’t seem to matter that Halloween is a festival that has no roots in India: it is another opportunity to get together, to dress up, albeit in spooky costumes or even more interesting, as characters, and for children to enjoy sweets. It sounds like an alternate version of our own Indian festivals, doesn’t it? Related ItemsHalloween BangaloreHalloween DelhiHalloween in IndiaHalloween MumbaiHalloween NRIsHalloween parties IndiaLittle India