Holi doesn’t have to be a riot of drunken, drugged up people spraying other drunken, drugged up people with indelible dye. There is a gentler, more refined way to join in the celebrations. Some Indian friends took me to a converted local farmhouse, Mohan Vilaas (sic) to experience an “entertainment with flour” (or was it flower?)
There was a buffet dinner, with the usual mix of North and South Indian food, and ushers brought amuse bouche of spring rolls, paneer tandoori and chilli style, spicy soya bites and pakora. The event had attracted some VVIPs, so I had to be on my best behaviour. No “dad dancing” in the aisles to bhangra music – actually I am still rather piqued by one man’s description of me as “Mr Bean throwing some shapes”.
The backdrop of the stage was a massive video screen showing swirly patterns and Holi greetings. I am sure that if anyone in the audience had drunk bhang, which contains marijuana, this would have been hallucinatingly spectacular. The stage lighting consisted of rapidly changing brash colours – well, it is the festival of colour, right? Very tricky to photograph, and time consuming to process in Lightroom afterwards.
First up were a couple of crooners, with an odd backing group of middle-aged moustachioed men. This was not Robert Palmer doing “Addicted to Love”. How about the man in blue who was looking through the lyrics while the backing group did a bit of chorus.
The Mistress of Ceremonies had some startling make up but spoke good English, so I could understand what was going on. Eyebrows are big here in India. I was anointed with sandalwood paste on my forehead by the pandit, like most other people in these photos.
Next up were some lost boys, mates of Krishna apparently, who were generously illuminated.
Radha and Krishna made several appearances, followed by a whirling dervish (he was from Egypt rather than Khartoum) and some Kathakali dancers with flamboyant head-dresses and green faces.
More dancers, more boys, more Krishna, more dervish (with umbrellas attached to his skirt) and then the finale.
Ali Quli Mirza, a contestant on Indian reality TV show Bigg Boss 8, and also on Bigg Boss Halla Bol (which means “Raise your voice!”), came on stage to rapturous applause. He answered a few texts and checked WhatsApp after the first number. His next song was his signature tune and was well known by several elderly Indian gentlemen in the front row, who stood up and danced as though no one was watching.
They brought out the industrial blowers onto the stage and emptied sacks of rose petals and marigolds into the hoppers. The stage was several inches deep in flowers. Everyone got onto the stage, grabbed selfies with AQM, flung petals into the air and danced. Even me. Uncharacteristically, I was rather coy about asking for a personal selfie with AQM, but I suppose this is how he earns his money. He was a professional about it. The lowlight performance of the cellphone is poor, so I won’t post the results here.
After the party cooled down, people went back to hit the buffet with a vengeance. I had some great dessert, warm mung dahl halwa with vanilla icecream. Many thanks to my friends, I had a great evening with the stars.