Oct 312013


Halloween in India 

I remember when I was a kid in Delhi, we had a fun festival before Diwali in which boys will carry a small toy made of sticks with a clay head called Tesu, who was slain prince from Mahabharata to neighborhood  homes and ask for money or goodies. The girls in turn will have a small perforated clay pot with a small Diya lighted in it and they too will go to the homes in neighborhood and sing

” Jhanji do jee Jhanjee do”

The boys will sing: “Tesu do jee Tesu do” and continue something like this

TESU mera yahin Ada , Khane ko maangey dahi wada , dahi wade men mirchen Bahut ,

aagey dekho kazi houz , kazi hauz pe chali chhuri , aagey dekho fateh puri, 

Kazi Houz and Fateh Puri were famous markets in Delhi and the translation of the song means

Please give me Tesu, my Tesu will stand here and he wants Dahi Wada ( a street food), to eat, Oh but dahi wada is very spicy, and we have  Kazi houz near by. There has been some stabbing in Kazi Houz, and we need to go to Fateh puri ( poor translation..please give me a better version).

Now technically Tesu was only a head on some sticks making him look a bit scary and he was to marry Jhanji. But I have not seen the festival being celebrated for many years now even when I visit Delhi, may be it is still celebrated in rural Delhi.  But in last few years I have been witnessing an increase in the Halloween celebration in our cities. In our apartment complex majority of kids were born in the US and they celebrate Halloween with full josh.  I don’t think I need to tell what Halloween is all about, what I like is the same vigor the kids go to neighborhood and scream

” Trick or Treat, Tick or Treat, give me something good to eat.”

As historians will vouch for Halloween is a pre-Christian pagan festival that has got revived in the USA and other parts of the world, thanks to the marketing machine called Hollywood.  The timing of Halloween and Tesu- Jhanji is eerily similar to fall around Diwali and that both festivals involved kids going around and asking for goodies make me think is there a connection? May be the festival started in pre-historic times and continued to evolve with the civilization, which will make it one of the oldest festivals in the world without any TRUE religious significance. Or I could be wrong and it is a coincidence or is it?

 Here I am giving some pictures that I took just a few minutes back of some of the kids who came to our home asking for ” Trick or Treat”, our elder daughter has already kept a bag full of candies for her friends and joined them.

Trick or Treet Kids dressed for Halloween India

Trick or Treat: Kids dressed for Halloween in India

Boys with zombie mask Halloween

Zombies for Halloween

Zombie in town for Halloween

Zombie in town for Halloween


In Hyderabad there are big events for Halloween, from Zombie dance to, Halloween themed dinners, but I don’t think anybody remembers what Tesu and Jhanji festival was. I tried to search on google and there too very few references were available, and one of them had comments from yours truly!  You can read some of them over here to know more about the legend of Tesu and Jhanji:

Here is my earlier post about Comic-Con with pictures of  Zombies

So I guess I am not the only one who remembers the old festival of Tesu and Jhanji, there are others too. But like many other things Halloween from Hollywood has taken over here too completely.  What do you say? Do you have memories of any old festival or tradition that we have forgotten?

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  6 Responses to “desi Halloween and memories of Tesu and Jhanji”

Comments (5) Pingbacks (1)
  1. I also remember this festival and trying to get more information about this festival. Suddenly found this article. Thanks for consolidating the info.

  2. Great piece of info, Prasad.

    I remember hearing about the festival when you posted a comment about it on one of my posts last year. It was nice learning about it. Looks like it was celebrated around the same time as Halloween, right?

    Btw, Halloween is getting bigger and bigger there, right?

    • Thanks Divya. Halloween is getting bigger with every passing year in India. In Hyderabad alone there were many theme parties and almost every company in Hitec City celebrates it.

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