Every year, the Holi Festival brings a rainbow of chalk to the streets of India. The Holika bonfire is ignited the night before the Holi, bringing people gathered together for an evening of dance and song. The following day, the bonfire gives way for a free-for-all carnival of color. Participants play, chasing each other with colored water and powder. The festival’s intention is to bring together strangers, uniting the rich and poor, men and women, children and elders — people who might not mingle otherwise.
It is the most colorful and zestful festival celebrated in India. Holi festival is based on one of the famous legends of killing evil demoness Holika. Another one of the famous legends is the one Lord Krishna complaining to mother Yashodha about Radha being fairer as compared to him. Mother Yashodha suggests that Krishna should colour Radha, in the colour of his choice. The mischievous Krishna is said to have coloured his beloved in a hue of colours thereafter. A tradition that we have been following. Originally, the Holi colours were made using bright flowers that blossomed during the spring season. As Holi arrives in the season of spring, the gulal colour was made of plants and flowers that blossomed during this month.
With the increasing popularity of Holi and spread of industrialisation, natural colours were gradually replaced with chemically processed synthetic colours that, while although cheaper, come with a host of health problems, from minor allergies to temporary blindness and even skin cancer. Additionally, artificial colours can prove to be harmful to the environment as well because they are highly structured polymers that are hard to decompose biologically.
Synthetic colours are also adulterated at times and can contain lead and arsenic which are poisonous. Also, synthetic colours may lead to skin reactions, rashes etc. Not only that, but they may also cause your skin to become hypersensitive to the sun.
You can safeguard yourself and the environment by choosing to forgo toxic chemical colors and choosing to make them with natural ingredients, just like people did in the past. Preparing gulal at home may take some time, but it’s not all that difficult. The ingredients are easily available in the market, and it can also be a fun activity to do with friends and family.
DIY Holi Colors
Red: Dry red hibiscus flowers until they’re crisp, and then grind them into a fine powder. You can also use red sandalwood for this one. You can add rice flour in equal quantities to increase the volume of the powder. For wet colors, boil peels of pomegranate in water.
Yellow: You can blend turmeric powder with gram flour in a 1:2 ratio to make dry powder. Alternatively, any yellow colored flowers, such as marigold or yellow chrysanthemums, can be crushed and combined in water for wet colors.
Green: To obtain a lovely green-colored powder, you can use henna or Mehendi powder mixed with gram flour. In order to get a liquid paste, you can either add the henna and gram flour mixture in water or oil or use any green leafy vegetables, such as spinach. Remember that henna soaked in water may leave slight stains on the skin.
Magenta: Soak sliced beetroots in water, boil the mixture and leave it overnight. If you want a more pinkish shade, just dilute the concoction a little more. You can also use red onions for this one.
Blue: Powdered blue hibiscus flower petals and rice flour can be used to obtain blue-colored powder. For wet colors, you can use crushed and dried jacaranda flowers mixed with water.
Here are 5 reasons to go organic
- Skin Friendly: These organic Holi colors do not cause any damage to any skin. Chemical-based colors are notorious for causing rashes, redness and in some cases, infections. Kids celebrating this festival feel the effects of the chemicals more than anyone else. Their organic counterparts, however, have been made from naturally occurring substances. Therefore, they do not cause any skin irritations whatsoever.
- Prevents Hair Damage: Chemical-based colors, not only damage your skin but can also damage your hair and scalp. The chemicals present within eventually seep into your hair and scalp and damage the core. This can result in hair loss and severe dryness. Herbal Gulal on the other hand, does not damage your hair whatsoever.
- Eye Protection: We’ve all been there. Happily playing Holi right until the moment a bit of color is thrown into your eyes. Those who have experienced this before knowing the pain and the potential problems that come with it. The chemicals seep into your eyes and can cause severe internal damage. This is not the case with organic colors as there is no chemicals present.
- Animal Friendly: Don’t forget about your pets. Applying artificial colors on your pets can be much worse for them than it can be for you. It can cause severe skin irritations and has the potential to cause infections. Organic or herbal gulal is perfectly safe to use on your pets.
- Environment Friendly: What happens to the colors once Holi is over? Whatever is left on the walls and ground eventually gets washed away and absorbed by the soil. The chemicals present in artificial colors can lower the level of nutrients present in soil and can subsequently affect the grass, plants, and trees around. Again, no such issues faced with organic colors.