Ajay and his family visit and enjoy the Rajasthan Abhaneri Festival every year. A family of four, they are quite fond of the festivities, cultural events, shopping and the values the festival stands for.
The fest, celebrated in Rajasthan’s Dausa district, is mainly held in Abhaneri Village.
The family is unhappy this year: The state government has cancelled the festivities in view of the coronavirus pandemic. As they flip through a photo album with their pictures from last year’s event, the kids are sad; Ajay and his wife Meena are disappointed too. While Meena continues to stare at the images, the two little ones quietly slip out of the room in search of something happier for the present time.
An idea strikes Ajay and he quips: “Meena, how about celebrating the festival at home this time? We can decorate the house, cook some delicacies, dance, play, and enjoy – and yet keep safe from the virus.”
Meena’s eyes light up at the thought. Delighted, she says: “Why, that’s an excellent idea, Ajay! I will also prepare a short performance of the Kalbelia dance, which Ishan (their son) loves. We will make a small Rangoli, too, something like we had seen last year at the exhibition.”
The two are now determined not to allow Corona to spoil their happiness and pleasure. Over the next few days, they collect everything to make their home feel like the festival itself. They buy various Rajasthani decorative items, too.
After the kids are off to bed around 10 pm on the eve of the festival, Ajay and Meena set out for their big surprise. Meena takes the responsibility of preparing the cuisines, and Ajay starts decorating the house. Soon enough, they turn their house into a beautiful Rajasthani Paradise. Working very precisely, the duo even puts up paintings, clothing and art and pottery work typical of the festival. In their backyard, they set up an artificial step-well, just like ‘Chand Baori’, the main celebration area of the festival. This they achieve by building a boundary around the kids’ make-shift swimming pool.
Meanwhile, Meena has prepared the traditional dishes that their kids are fond of.
As the kids wake up on the day of the festival, they are not able to believe their eyes. As they cry in joy and rush to hug their parents, the eyes of Ajay and Meena also well up. The family has a great time: the rituals, some of the most famous Rajasthani delicacies and, of course, Meena’s dance performance. As the day is about to end, Mini (their daughter) comes up to the couple and says: “The lockdown may have locked us at home, but at home we are together – safe, happy, and loved. This is the best Abhaneri that can ever be.”
Note: This is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to a person living or otherwise may be purely coincidental