Every family has their own unique way of celebrating Holi. Some families burn the bonfire known as “Holika Dehen” a day before the festival and celebrate the triumph of good over evil with gulaal the next morning. Some families believe in drenching their neighbors in colored water and eggs. But despite the different traditions that are unique to every family, Holi is the joyous festival of colors to all. It represents the letting go of inhibitions and enjoying yourself. Holi is when the inner child of every person finds a way to truly live again, loudly, and happily.
The Holi of the year 2022 was expected to be a blast. It came as a relief after two years of lockdown and restrictions. Everyone was eager to meet their families, mingle in the society, and celebrate to the fullest.
The Juneja’s were staunchly opposed to almost all Holi traditions. They hated getting dirty, drenched, or drowned in shallow tubs of paint. But even they were looking forward to the festival this year. After everyone had tired out in the society and returned home for a shower, the family would come out and resume their life as members of the community. This meant, enjoying a glass of bhaang in the evening with their neighbors.
Preksha, the neighbor’s daughter returned home every year with bottles of homemade bhaang from her in-laws. Her knock at the Juneja household’s door was the signal for them to come over with ice cubes and enjoy the part of the festival they liked the most. Everyone would comment at the subtle taste of the drink and try to guess the newest ingredients she had added. Preksha’s brother Yug was less like her older brother and more like a twin. The two had been creating trouble since they were knee high and contrary to Mr. Juneja’s expectations, that hadn’t changed the least as they had grown up and gotten married.
The brother and sister duo weren’t irresponsible or immature, they simply liked to enjoy every aspect of life and find joy in the smallest things. Pulling their conservative neighbor’s leg every year after the first glass of the traditional drink was a tradition of their own. However, this year was even more special. The youngest child in the Juneja household, Ayush, had just turned 21. He was excited to have his first taste of bhaang this Holi but was nervous about drinking anything more than a Fanta in the presence of his father.
When the knock arrived, signaling Preksha’s arrival at their doorstep, Ayush rushed to open the door with the ice box in hand. He pulled Preksha inside and said in a whisper, “I want to try the bhaang, but I don’t know if Mumma and Papa will be okay with me drinking. Could you sneak in a glass for me in my room later?”
Preksha smiled and said, “We don’t need the ice box. The bhaang is chilled. I found a pretty cool cooling solution.”
Ayush was confused, “What? What are you saying?”
Preksha pointed to the Olive Green Bag in her hand. “The bag is insulated so the bhaang is fresh and cool. We don’t need the ice. But we still want you guys to come over. Bye!”
Preksha turned around and skipped over to her house quickly. Ayush informed his family of the new developments and nervously made his way to their neighbor’s home.
Everyone hugged and greeted each other, and Mr. Juneja even allowed Preksha to put a ceremonial tilak of gulaal on his forehead. They all took their seats in the living room and began to discuss the new parking system being applied to the society.
Preksha came in with glasses for everyone and Ayush eyed them enviously. There were just enough for all the elders in the room, leaving Ayush without one. He decided to get up and get himself a cold drink from the kitchen but was unable to get up as a pair of hands pushed him back down in his seat. Yug walked up from the back of Ayush’s chair and sat down next to him.
“Here”, he said, holding his glass out to him, “I thought you could have your first sip of an elder’s only drink from my glass before getting your own. It would be a shame to waste any if you end up not liking it.”
Ayush looked over at Preksha, who had a big smile on her face and then at his father who seemed pleased as well. Ayush took a small sip and tasted the delicious and cooling concoction. He smacked his lips together and said, “I like it!”
Yug said, “Ha-ha, it sounds like you do!”
Preksha said, “Let’s get you your own glass then, hand me the bag that says Outer Woods. Yes, the Olive Green one. We will open a new bottle.”
Ayush smiled at his father and his father smiled back at him. Mr. Juneja then said, “Preksha, dear, where did you get this bag from? I can’t believe you replaced our freezer with this bag!”
Preksha laughed and said, “Ha-ha, don’t worry Uncle. I’ll send you the link.”
"Fill your life and those around you with the colors of the rainbow" - Unknown
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