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Time Out and Instagram present Holi at Home
Time Out and Instagram

Join Time Out and Instagram’s virtual mini-fest helping London celebrate ‘Holi at Home’

Learn how to make bhel puri, master henna or bust out Bollywood moves

By
Samantha Willis
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London’s Holi celebrations are somewhat on hold this year, thanks to our old pal the roadmap. Ordinarily, the capital’s Hindu community would come together to celebrate the end of winter and the triumph of good over evil – often characterised by street parties and large gatherings exploding with colour (you’ve likely seen the resulting rainbow commuters).

In the new normal, we saw Diwali celebrations take on new forms, like Kumari Burman’s amazing light installation for Tate Britain and the floating flower inspired by rangoli patterns at Canary Wharf’s Jubilee Park fountain – both of which could be enjoyed at a safe distance, using only your eyeballs. We also saw people from across the UK coming together to celebrate virtually, like those who took the #ShareYourLight challenge to share positivity and light with their communities on Instagram.

This got us (and when we say us, we mean Time Out and Instagram) thinking – is there a way we can help Londoners safely celebrate the holy day of Rangwali Holi at home this Monday March 29? Yes, yes we can: by letting them enjoy and learn about its traditions, delicacies and dancing through some of Instagram’s inspiring Creators.

Ahead of going Live with our virtual mini-fest, we caught up with the three Londoners who’ll be our hosts to find out exactly what to expect. 

Ravinder Bhogal for Time Out London and Instagram's Holi at Home
@cookinboots on Instagram

@cookinboots – Chef, columnist and author

As chef at Jikoni London, Ravinder Bhogal creates ‘immigrant cuisine’ by taking a playful approach to the world’s larder and serving up dishes that take inspiration from multiple heritages and traditions. When she’s not in the kitchen, she puts pen to paper – writing food columns for the likes of Harper’s Bazaar and the FT Weekend.

Join chef Ravinder @cookinboots this Monday March 29 at noon on @timeoutlondon as she serves up Jikoni’s take on the popular Indian street food dish bhel puri.

Thinking back to a time before the pandemic, how would you usually celebrate Holi?

‘Like most festivals, for me celebrations revolve around food! On both Diwali and Holi, I love preparing my versions of Indian street food or chaat – which are like small plates or tapas but each one is packed with flavour – a balance of hot, sweet and sour which makes them addictive! It’s why I’m preparing a take on one of my favourite Indian chaats – Jikoni bhel puri – for Holi at Home. It’s like a party in your mouth!’

What’s particularly special about celebrating Holi in London? Any London events you would usually attend?

It’s wonderful when the Indian diaspora come together to celebrate Holi in London. My friend chef Vivek Singh is renowned for amazing Holi parties he throws on his terrace at Cinnamon Kitchen in the City. Throwing colour over strangers is a wonderful ice breaker! It’s also extremely amusing to see colour splattered commuters on the tube, post-party.’

Why is it important for you to take part in Holi at Home this year?

‘I truly believe that all religious festivities are for sharing and not hoarding. Celebrating each other’s cultural and religious festivities brings communities together and helps us broaden our knowledge, horizons and palette. It’s a sharing of culture that makes our lives (and importantly our food traditions) richer, so I am excited to be taking part in Holi at Home to share the celebrations with everyone through Instagram.’

Holi is a time for connecting with friends and loved ones. How have you stayed connected to your community, friends and family over the past year?

‘It’s been wonderful to be able to speak to people on Zoom calls – especially friends and family abroad – to have a cocktail or dinner with them. And Instagram is ideal to stay connected, especially for keeping up with my gaggle of cousins! An account that has bought me endless joy this year is @ravneeteats: the mega-talented pastry queen and all-round inspiring young woman. Her account is pastry nirvana and always makes me hungry!’ 

Nisha Davdra for Time Out London and Instagram's Holi at Home
@nishadavdra on Instagram

@nishadavdra – Jewellery designer and henna artist 

Nisha Davdra creates eye-catching henna designs that have been featured at weddings, parties and even in Disney’s live-action adaptation of ‘Cinderella’. She uses the ancient dye to create intricate designs, whilst sharing traditional stories told around Holi such as that of Prahlad, and other legends that help inspire positivity in the modern day.

Join Nisha @nishadavdra this Monday March 29 at 3pm on @timeoutlondon to recreate popular henna designs in celebration of Holi.

Thinking back to a time before the pandemic, how would you usually celebrate Holi?

I typically celebrate Holi with my mum in a very low-key way that fits in with our busy lives and work. I go to her house around midday and she tells me traditional stories like that of Prahlad and Holika, which I will recount on my Instagram Live session for Holi at Home. We later make popcorn and sit around a bonfire at an event to mark Holi. I’ve always wanted to celebrate Holi in India, on the streets throwing coloured water and powder: there is such a sense of playfulness and community about it!’

What’s particularly special about celebrating Holi in London? Any London events you would usually attend?

‘London is such a diverse city in both culture and inclusivity. I love that anyone can come and experience the fervour of Holi, the celebration of spring, and have the opportunity to be a part of something so delightful. I am so happy that Holi at Home can bring this celebration to people at home wherever they are this year!’

Why is it important for you to take part in Holi at Home this year?

‘I know how important it is to pass on our cultural experiences growing up to our children. My children are not Hindu like me, they are Muslim and it has been important to me to give them experiences of my own which they love and enjoy. With this year being difficult for them with upheaval in their schooling, the principles and morals of Prahlad’s story is ever-relevant.’

Holi is a time for connecting with friends and loved ones. How have you stayed connected to your community, friends and family over the past year?

‘Social media has helped me stay in touch with my friends and kept me entertained through lockdown. A few of my favourite new connections on Instagram include Mark Kanemura (@mkik808), a performer from LA who runs Live dance tutorials which I have danced along to with my daughter, and Layton Williams (@LaytonWilliams) who has been a real inspiration despite the difficulties actors have faced whilst theatres are closed.’

Sugapuff for Time Out London and Instagram's Holi at Home
@sugapuffofficial on Instagram

@sugapuffofficial – Presenter and entertainer

Sugapuff has kept thousands of people laughing throughout the pandemic with his viral dancing videos and comedy skits. A font of positivity and good vibes, he’s also a regular contributor on BBC Asian Network and VEVO presenter. Having trained as a modern Bollywood dancer in his teens, Sugapuff teaches moves to woo any crowd.

Join @sugapuffofficial this Monday March 29 at 5pm on @timeoutlondon to learn Bollywood moves for Holi or any Desi party!

Thinking back to a time before the pandemic, how would you usually celebrate Holi?

‘A typical Holi would be me calling up my friends to see who is hosting a Holi celebration and then heading to a house party! Walking through the door I’d smell Indian sweets, delicious fried foods and a scent of incense sticks, and see colourful decorations, candles and of course all my friends dancing to Bollywood music and showing off their best moves. Eventually everyone would start throwing gulal (coloured powder) at everyone else!’

What's your favourite memory of Holi in London?

‘Naz Choudhury, a Bollywood Choreographer and CEO of BollyFlex, invited me to a Holi party in Greenwich back in 2015. There were dhol (double-ended barrel drum) players, a young crowd jumping up and down and everyone was throwing different bright coloured powders at each other: it was so exciting! The powders pay homage to the bright colours seen during the spring season, and make Holi events so vibrant to be a part of!’

Why is it important for you to take part in Holi at Home this year?

‘Holi is such a fun celebration, and it’s a shame people can’t go out and gather this year, due to lockdown. However, virtual festivals like Holi at Home can help bring the party to people, wherever they are celebrating and I am so happy to be involved. The pandemic has made things very difficult for people, so I want to encourage everyone to do what makes you happy and smile – because your mental health matters.’

Holi is a time for connecting with friends and loved ones. How have you stayed connected to your community, friends and family over the past year?

Over the past year, I’ve used Instagram to stay connected with friends and family, from simple things like posting Stories of me cooking and discussing random topics, to sharing Reels of me singing or dancing to make them smile (like this!). For anyone looking for more positivity or activities to get through lockdown, painter Jade Laurice (@jadelaurice) has done some cool and creative art classes on IG Live, and Laura-Jane Popsey (@ljpopsey) keeps me smiling with her honest accounts of life as a single mum on Instagram. I love how she keeps it real!’

Join the Holi at Home Celebrations on Time Out London’s Instagram on Monday March 29 from noon

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