If you’ve been mixing egg yolk or urine into your Holi water balloons because you think it’s funny, it is with the gravest displeasure that I must inform you it is time to class things up a bit. Because as you see, dear friend, Holi is making waves internationally – the Spanish seem to love it more than carrying out inquisitions on ancient civilisations and the British kids are seeing it as a way to give Shashi Tharoor some of his colonial reparations. All over the world, from Kansas to Kuwait, people are celebrating our festival of colour, and it is now up to us Indians to set an example for this increasingly aspirational festival. No more waterboarding children and chucking loaded balloons from terraces: You are now the flag-bearers of a world-renowned festival.
So how do you class things up? For one, it is very important to follow a strict dress code. Wear the whitest, most transparent chheent kurta you can find at Nicobar or Good Earth (FabIndia won’t cut it). Team this with tiny denim shorts, an African-style turban, and marigold and frangipani necklaces. To complete this look, you’ll need the shiniest John Lennon Ray Ban sunglasses you can find. Remember that the shades need to be shiny – electric blue or a soft brown, preferably – so that someone can take an artsy-boho picture of you and your friend reflected in the glasses. It’s worth taking note here that some people have figured out how to play Holi and still look like they’ve walked out of a two-hour-long shower. Be like that.
To achieve that style, you’ll need to ditch the ’90s Robot look (so no permanent silver colour), and trade up for something more upmarket. You could attempt the “Tribal Warlord” look, that’s always in fashion. To get the perfect warlord look, apply only two neat strips of colour across each cheek and no more. When faced with situations wherein you must spread this colour to another human being, you must do so with the help of a well-aimed air kiss.
If you aren’t sure where to celebrate this Holi, try attending one of the many parties in your neighbourhood. Festivals such as Holi Cow, or Holi Moo, or whatever the cool kids are calling it these days, could be the perfect stage for an aggressive dunking in the water, slapped in the face with colour by a stranger, groped if you are a woman, or just simply experience some “moozik and madness”. You could do this with the help of some “thumping traxx” and lots of bhang. It is wise to not stay at one party for longer than required: Think of this like a very messy pub crawl.
But the most important accessory that you need to pull off a great Holi party is a token white person. This is very important because this lost man/woman must be constantly amazed by every situation around you. The white person will both improve your coolness quotient and enhance the effect colour has on skin, ensuring your friends think you are cooler than you actually are. The foreigners must be equipped with very expensive cameras and expressions of wonder. They must also constantly repeat “India” and “wow” and “I have no words” with their mouths open as if both flummoxed and impressed at the same time.
If your white people are not sufficiently impressed, you are not doing something right. Insist upon them that Holi is a sort of return to roots – and that it is traditionally played with 100 per cent organic floral gulaal. That every Holi you personally soak tesu ke phool overnight and sprinkle the concoction with some fairy dust by the light of a full moon for some added sensuality. That you and your grandmother bonded over grating cannabis leaves for the bhang that you are drinking today. None of that store-bought artisanal artifice, with names like Angel Spit or Massive Moonrise, for you.
Once you’re done collecting all your props, and all the niceties, it’s time to go wild. Display your love for our ancient culture, but be careful not to let any water splash on your Cartier watch. Play Holi with style and grace, and remember, when you are spraying someone with your pichkari, release it gracefully, like a swan in slo-mo. No throwing stuff around like a “holigan”.
Should you follow each and every one of these steps, you are guaranteed to have the best Holi of your life. Remember to chronicle each moment of this glorious, fleeting day for all eternity on Instagram (using the hashtag #HoliSwag or #ColourMeBeautiful). You will see your social standing soar. And if you keep this up, you might even get an invitation to Amitabh Bachchan’s Jalsa bash next year.