Family celebrates first Halloween pandemic style

·3 min read

Nishreen Murtaza’s daughter and son will be taking to the streets of Halifax to trick-or-treat for the first time on Halloween — and they’ll be equipped with lots of hand sanitizer along the way.

It’s not the Halloween nor the Canada they expected to experience after immigrating here.

But Murtaza, her husband Murtaza Surti and their children, who packed up their belongings and moved from India to Nova Scotia in July amid the COVID-19 pandemic, are still looking forward to the spooky celebration.

“It’s going to be a good opportunity to see who our neighbours are, to meet them,” said Murtaza.

“There would have been a chance for more personal interaction had COVID not dampened it, but of course, following all the safety rules, we will be venturing out, meeting them and introducing ourselves.”

Murtaza’s four-year-old daughter Zahra Murtaza Surti is dressing up as a witch with a pointy hat, dress, cape and carrying a bright green broom with her.

Her two-year-old son Daniyal Murtaza Surti, on the other hand, is going as Ironman.

They’ll both also be wearing masks as COVID-19 safety measures, in addition to maintaining physical distancing, avoiding houses that are not lit up or decorated for Halloween and bringing hand sanitizer along with them, according to Murtaza.

Public health officials are also recommending that trick-or-treaters avoid ringing doorbells and instead gently knock on doors, only trick-or-treat with people they live with and wash their hands as soon as they get home, among other measures.

Despite having to take the precautions due to COVID-19, Murtaza admits she’s excited for the celebration — perhaps more so than her children.

“It’s a very new tradition. From where I come, Halloween is not big. In fact, I would say unheard of,” she said.

“Halloween is going to be big this time — learning a new tradition, blending into the culture, which is another reason why we migrated, to be exposed to the cultural diversity that Canada has to offer, mixed with people of all ethnicities.”

Having arrived here amid the pandemic, Murtaza said her family’s adjustment to Nova Scotia has been in “some ways smooth, some ways challenging.”

Finding an apartment was one of the challenges they faced, but Murtaza said their acquaintances in Halifax “helped us get all our documents in place.”

“The people here are very welcoming, which kind of helped us to transition into this new culture over here,” she said.

As the pandemic eases over time, Murtaza said her family wants to explore more of Nova Scotia and to celebrate Christmas next.

“All in all, we’ve come a long way. We’ve seen a little bit of Halifax and whatever we’ve seen, we’ve loved it,” she said.

“I’m looking forward to raising (my kids) here. And let’s see how things do turn out.”

Noushin Ziafati, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Chronicle Herald