Day 22: A very Bollywood Christmas

In my Indian-American family, where no occasion goes by without a celebration, getting into the Christmas spirit means going to Bollywood music. Although none of our elders grew up celebrating Christmas, they have fully embraced it, and when we gather for Christmas dinner at my father-in-law’s house in Los Angeles, everyone has a task. While moms roast walnuts with chaat masala and dads gather around wine, my job is to sync my phone to a bluetooth speaker and play deejay. My father-in-law, Vrajesh Lal, the patriarch of the family, starts the evening with a full glass of pinot noir and a request for “something Christmas,” like “Elvis’ Christmas Album.” (Having emigrated from India to the United States in 1972, Vrajesh is a big Elvis fan.) But when nuts give way to Cornish hens and cumin-crusted squash (for vegetarians) , keeps tagging me with a new directive: “Let’s get a little Bollywood, eh?” My playlist includes Bhangra-style versions of Christmas music, with beats that come from North India, Bollywood Brass Band songs, and some of my father-in-law’s favorite Bollywood hits. Even the King cannot compete with this family’s obligation to celebrate Christmas with jams from the homeland.

The album, “A Jolly Bolly Christmas”, features Bollywood and Bhangra versions of Christmas classics. Credit…Keda Records

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