Holi holiday

Holi holiday

Holi must be the most colourful festival in the whole world. For a day or two at the end of winter, Hindus in India, Nepal and Pakistan run around pelting each other with gulal – brightly coloured and scented pigment – until street scenes begin to resemble impressionist paintings, everyone daubed head to toe in yellow and pink, green and purple. The usual social norms and barriers – between caste, status, sex and age – are broken down in celebration of the coming of spring, which this year falls on 7-8 March.

Good places to catch the festivities in India are in Braj, the region most connected to Krishna, in the north of the country. Cities and towns such as Mathura, Vrindavan and Barsana have particularly exuberant celebrations, and can be combined with a visit to the Taj Mahal, which is about 50km away.

For celebrations closer to home, Orleans House in Twickenham is putting on bhangra and Bollywood dancers and encouraging participants to leave its Karmarama Cafe and take to the streets to hurl around handfuls of pigment. One word of warning: leave your best clothes at home.

In London, many restaurants are putting on special tasting menus, such as the Cinnamon Club; and its sister branch in the City, the Cinnamon Kitchen, is offering a free cocktail (quote ‘Holi water’ to claim yours) and urging diners to wear their most colourful ties and heels during 14-19 March.

At Bombay cafe-inspired Dishoom in the West End, they’re serving Naughty Holi Lassis (with the option of rum instead of rather more naughty bhang) that come with coloured powders you can add to flavour your lassi strawberry, peach or mint.

And from 14 March, Harrods Food Hall will be stocking a selection of dishes from Tamarind, the Michelin-starred Indian restaurant in Mayfair, and its contemporary younger sister, Imli. The menu ranges from a full dinner-party’s worth of the restaurants’ classic dishes, to ‘naanwiches’ for picnics in the park. Take it away.

Pictured: covered in coloured pigment for Holi, India.

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