Lucknow: In this part of the country, like in most of northern India, Holi comes as a big ticket festival for the lovers of bacchus. So, while there is lot of colour and different hues of 'pichkaris' to play with, the city landscape here is set to get tipsy this Holi on friday, notwithstanding the weather which is set to play truant.
And so, as the people gear up for free flow of liquor in various colours, brands and tastes, the king of all intoxication here however continues to be 'thandai' - a concoction of dry fruits, saffron and select spices. A dash of 'bhaang' is an added incentive for most old-timers in the town to let their hair down.
But with times, the thandai has undergone a sea change. As with other things involved in the festival of colours, the thandai now comes in various colours and types. And the new value addition is also a preferred one for most people as it is not only readymade, comes with a variety and is less sugary!
While the old traditional thandai, that is still in vogue at old city, means a lot of milk, black pepper powder, fennel seeds, rose petals, cashew nuts, almonds and much more, the new age thandai ready mix is certainly a preferred drink for the busy ones.
The market now offers a bevy of thandai mixtures with new flavours like 'aam imli', 'strawberry', 'lemon', 'shahi kewda', 'aam', 'gulab', 'kesaria' and 'dry nut syrup'.
"This huge range of variety puts us in a better position to have our taste even while bonding with age-old traditions," veteran Pulkit Tandon, who admits having picked up a few bottles of thandai over his favourite brand of scotch this Holi, told IANS.
"While liquor is there for all times, thandai is largely for a day and we thoroughly enjoy it", said Gaurav Singh, an IT professional, advocating thandai as a better option this Holi.
However, the traditional thandai wins hands down in the old city, with people still preferring it over the new forms.
Over a dozen shops in the Chowk area are decked up for Holi with bulk orders for earthern cups (kullhads) already placed and several hundred litres of milk procured. The biggest of them all, Raja Thandai, whose clientele includes former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, is abuzz with activity.
Over 2,000 litres of milk and several kiligrams of condiments have been booked for Holi to prepare what many say is a "heavenly potion".
The owners of a shop, while admitting to the rage of new-found tastes in the thandai segment, however says that his "business is brisk as ever." "There are bulk orders and the business is good as always. This holi and all round the year," he said.
The Holi revellers aren't complaining for they know that the more, the merrier!