By Rashi Wadhera

It’s that time of year again! Originally a spring festival of fertility and harvest, historically, Holi can be traced back to a religious story of good defeating evil. However, our generation seems to have turned the festival into a rave of sorts, and we’re blaming it on the overflowing bhaang, masked as thandaai. There’s two pieces of good news – Holi means spring has officially arrived, and that you definitely have the day off and can revel in celebrating! Whether you’re looking to get your hands, and/or the rest of your body dirty, or want to take it easy with the signature two spots of gulaal on your face, LBBD gives you the 411 on what’s happening in and around the city. From where to shop and eat, to where to party, join us in celebrating our favourite festival of the year!

SHOP |

Back when we were younger, circa the nineties, there was almost an unsaid competition to see who could get dirtier. Remnants of pink pakka rang were worn as a badge of honour, and we’d immediately look to the ears, neck and fingernails for signs of how intense a peer’s Holi had been. As we’ve grown up, we’ve found other things to be proud of, and can’t afford to dedicate a week to getting cleaned up. So organic, natural and easy-to-wash-off colours are the route we’re going. If you’re not willing to let go off your childhood, we applaud you and wish you good luck! If age got the better of you, here’s where to head to ensure safe blends and colours.

Swarang: Self Made Colours – featuring 100% floral gulaals, pink city colours and artisanal gulaals by Red Earth India. They’re promoting embracing a natural and traditional Holi, and promote usage of natural colours. You can view a complete colour catalogue here to order. Or visit them here.

Antarkranti: Divya Jyoti Jagrati Sansthan, an NGO, works with Tihar inmates to produce natural Holi colour. The colours are made of flower petals, food grade colour and natural fragrances, and are available across colours. The inmates then package these in 120gm pouches and retail them at INR 85 a pouch. To embrace a natural Holi and support the economic initiative, you can buy these colours at Tihar Jail, Dilli Haat {Pitampura} and Divya Jyoti Sansthan outlets.

Trash 2 Cash: Their philosophy is simple – they recycle flowers, ones that are discarded everyday from temples and hotels {up to 500kg a day}, which are then de-petaled and made to dry in the sun. These flowers are later processed and packed into Holi colour. What makes this program special are the people that work here. Almost all of them suffer from some sort of disability, and this initiative enables them to earn daily wages. They’re retailing at Dilli Haat {INA and Pitampura}, and have a kiosk at Select City Walk from the 11th to the 16th of March. To know more, connect with them here.

Note: Every bodega, neighbourhood shopping district and larger store will be selling Holi colour this week. Although a lot of them will be labeled as herbal, natural or organic, we recommend sticking to the bigger stores to be sure of authenticity. Reliable outlets include:

Kriti Creations {Khan Market, Select City Walk}, Defence Colony Market, Khan Market, INA market and Dilli Haat

PARTY |

Rang Festival: Far from popular Bollywood Holi tracks and white kurtas, Rang is primarily an EDM festival, with a line-up of both International and Indian artists including Mad Maxx, Crash N Boom, Vial, Starlab, Virus and Uday Das. It promises a variety of cocktails, imaginative drinking games, visual backdrops, and a rain dance, so you can get wet and feel like Holi’s complete.

Where: 32nd Milestone, NH 8, Gurgaon

When: 17th March, 12pm to 10pm

Price: INR 2,500 and INR 3,000

Contact: Call on 9582385030 or 9873659585, or book online here or here.

For a full line-up, click here.

Holi Cow: This day-long festival will play host to over 50 artists, across 4 stages, for a day filled with world, electronic, indie and gypsy music. The line-up features Mame Khan {Coke Studio}, Faridkot, Rishi Inc, RedMau5 {Yes, red}, Mad Boy Mink, Mental House Mafia and artists hailing from the Kathputli colony in Delhi-Kathputli collective.

Where: Rajokri Road, New Delhi

When: 17th March

Price: Entry is by invitation only

Contact: You can visit the festival page here, or drop an email here. Alternatively send an SMS  ‘MOO + your names’ to 09958826862 or 07836922292 to book your invites.

Holi Guns: Another party, another play on words. Although this time, Holi Guns promises to be bigger and better than ever before. The live stage line-up includes band Gravy-Train, The Jass B’stards and Peter Cat Recording Co, Wild City favourites The Grind {Su Real, Flash Hardcor, White Rabbit, T-Bone Stakes} and Progressive Brothers {for your EDM fix}. Holi Guns caters to a more eclectic musical palette, featuring hip-hop, trap, rock, dub and electronic music. Headlining from Germany is techno specialist Jerome Isma, so they also have techno covered.

Where: Zorba

When: 17th March

Price: INR 1,600

Contact: For tickets, log on here or call +917838959377 to find out offers on group bookings.

There are rumours swirling of a Holi Shit party! Although very clandestine about their venue and line-up, we have our ear to the ground, so watch this space for further details.

EAT |

No Indian festival is complete, in practice or tradition, unless you’re made to stuff your faces. What we enjoy the most {besides the food} is that the more fattening the product, the more convincing the argument for its consumption; hey, it’s Indian tradition!

Staples to eat during Holi and where to find them |

Gujiya: A dumplings cousin, gujiya is a sweet preparation made with either suji or maida, and stuffed with khoya.

Where: The safest bets are Haldirams and Bikanervala. Visit Bikanervala’s Facebook page here, {they have a special Holi contest running for free gujiyas!}, for Haldirams, find a store here.      

Other stores include Nathu Sweets {find a store here}, Moti Sweets {Malviya Nagar Market}, Evergreen Sweets {Green Park Market}, Bengali Sweet House {Tansen Marg}, Bengali Sweet Centre {Sundar Nagar}, Shree Ram Sweet Centre {Vasant Kunj, JNU}, Shafali Sweets {SDA}

Thandai: The only time of year {and your life} your family will encourage you to do drugs! Although traditionally thandaai is an Indian drink made by mixing a variety of Indian herbs and spices, it is usually laced with bhaang. If you want to sample the unadulterated version, we strongly recommend asking before you drink a glass. Also, bhaang takes its time to hit you, so ensure you sip moderate amounts of laced thandai.

For traditional, unadulterated thandaiHaldirams {Find a store here}, Bikanervala {Read more here}, Evergreen Sweet Shop {Green Park}, Misthaan Café {Saket}, Bengali Sweet Centre {South Extension-1}, Café Delhi Heights {DLF Cyber City}

If you’re in the mood to lace your thandaai: Try Prince Paan in GK 1. Also, the larger paan walas stock bhaang and bhaang balls.

Sweet Rice: Another Holi specialty, it’s made out of white rice, cardamom, and grated coconut, with generous amounts of ghee!

Where: You can give sweet rice a try at home; it’s easy to make and always delish.

What you’ll need: {Portions vary depending on how many you’re planning to serve}

Basmati Rice – 1 cup

Milk – 1 cup

Cardamom – 4

Sugar – 1 cup {add less or more according to your preference}

Ghee – 2 tbsp

Grated Coconut – 1 cup

You may add dry fruit, food colour or any accompaniment of your choice.

Method: Soak the rice for an hour and then cook with milk, a pinch of salt and a little water. In a separate saucepan, make a sugar syrup. To this, add the cooked rice, 1 tbsp ghee, cardamom, and any other choice of accompaniment. Stir for 10 minutes, or until all the water is absorbed. Fry cashew nuts and coconuts in 1 tbsp ghee, and add them to the mix for a finishing touch!