A firang’s guide to Holi

All is quiet. Too quiet! Out of the blue, a water balloon smacks you in the back of the head and some random stranger chucks a bag full of powdered dye into your face! Welcome to Holi, a festival where it is customary to assault the senses in every which way possible! Is this the first time you are witnessing Holi? Are you out of your depth? Don’t fret, we got you covered. This is a guide to surviving Holi with your sanity intact and also to getting out of it while not looking like a Picasso painting. 

1. Attire: The first thing you need is the right clothes. We suggest ratty items of clothing, the ones your mother threatened to burn and you said “No, give me my chaddi (undies) or give me nudity!” That’s first. Also try to avoid using anything that can turn sheer. No one wants to see your VIP Frenchies at 11 am. 
 
2. Drink: Now, if you are drinking on Holi, we suggest an alcoholic beverage to start off with. Dutch Courage and all that. If you are a teetotaler, chai will do too (to be sipped, not flung at random strangers). Also a word of warning to all out there: Bhaang! It isn’t a bang with attitude, it is a psychedelic portal into the inner consciousness. In other words, you get high! Mixed in with thandai (a delicious drink), bhaang will get you going. Effects vary, from dancing in the streets to communing with Nature (Not public urination… that’s a no-no) 
 
 
3. Activities: These can vary from the most simple to the utterly nonsensical. Holi brings that out in people. From hiding the bushes to ambush random strangers to dunking people in the pool, we have it all. There will be rain dances too. Before you think “Indians, yup this makes sense” No this isn’t a Native American Dance to the Rain Gods. It is a set-up where pipes are hung from above and made to leak. Turn on the water and lo, instant rain. That’s a rain dance. By the way, you need to know some Bollywood dance moves. We will come to that in a bit. 
 
 
4. Dancing: No Holi celebration is complete without the dancing. There are many forms of dance that you will see for yourself. You have the: a) uncle falling down and dancing in a puddle, b) naughty aunty in sari that you fancied when puberty just struck, c) the Bollywood exponents who have been trying to make it in the film industry, d) the embarrassed kid with his parents, e) the drunken Indian (characterized as the sprinkler-into-patting-the-dog-into-washing-the-dishes-into-the-mexican-wave) 
 
 
Try it. When all fails, grab the front of your kurta and flap, whilst jumping in place (Govinda’s step) 
 
 
5. Armaments {Weapons of Holi-struction}: Stock up on water balloons, pichkaris, buckets and color. 
Let’s break this down: Water balloon – any balloon which can be filled with water and hurled with deadly accuracy. Avoid below the belt at all costs. 
Pichkaris: Giant plungers that look turkey basters meets syringe. Designed to contain a set amount of liquid that comes out like a stream ( dirty minds, sheesh). 
Buckets: These are buckets. Nothing special about them. Use them to hurl water at people. Do not fling the said bucket at the person. 
Color: Packets of natural dye. Once daubed, they are guaranteed to come off after you are scrubbed till your skin turns from pink to pink again! Also, these colors get everywhere. Everywhere! So wash every crevice (again, dirty minds) thoroughly. 
For those who have the money, get your hands on some supersoakers. Nothing scares people, like the image of someone pumping away on their soaker. Let that sink in a little. 
 
 
Those are just a few helpful pointers for you. Enjoy the festival of colors and have a “Holi’stic experience. Also try the super special Bhang, but don’t say we didn’t warn you. Get some Pink Floyd and trip out! 

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