History tells us how the colours were made in the past, by drying different flowers and other plant based materials. Somehow over the period chemicals took over the natural colours. What can be the reasons for moving away from tradition in this case because we are supposed to be a traditionalistic society? There is also no aping the West as Holi is exclusively our festival.
We have cut traditionally used flowering trees-
The prime reason and the biggest environmental loss is cutting of all trees. When we were small we used to play with “Gulmohar flowers”, and dry them to make orange red powder. Now a days I don’t see any such trees around. Flame of the Forest or Palaash was the one to be used for making the red colour “Gulal”. With 95% henna exported we hardly get pure henna powder for cosmetic applications which was used to make green colour “Abeer”.
We have become too busy to make them at home–
The life style has changed and work stress has increased. People hardly get time to indulge in any such activities. Resulting in quick remedies and out sourcing. A quick way of making colours at home is mixing food colouring with corn starch, making slurry, drying and powdering. It involves chemical colours but food colours are less harmful. Another quick way is to dry out flowers or dark green leaves in microwave. Check our instagram for tips on flower drying.
We want all the shades of colours which don’t occur naturally-
There were few basic shades like red, green, yellow, purple. They are still there but we want more shades in between like blues, blacks, aquamarines and turquoises. These can only be made synthetically. We want shiny and smooth fine powder colours. This led to adding mica and talc in colours both of which are carcinogenic. With freeze drying perfected we can now preserve blues and greens of flowers and leaves. One good color is blue/green algae powder. Its costly but a little goes a long way in colouring .
We want colours to stay on our friend’s skin for several days as a mark of our power-
The chemical dyes like tattoos enter our skin’s upper layer and stays for several days after applying. Don’t think of the festival as show of superiority. Flower powders clean very easily requiring very less use of water. Thus use of such colours makes it a perfect green celebration. There is no solution to this attitude.
Chemical colours are cheap–
Are they really cheap? Minerals dugged out, processed in a chemical plant and made into artificial dyes to make different colours. If we compare the cost of drying and grinding flowers to this it will become obvious which is cheap. Then how come the natural colours are costly. This is a pure eye wash.
In our places of worship we throw away tons of flowers everyday which can be dried and made into colours. Similarly with weddings and home pujas. If we dry few flowers a month will get enough colours to gift entire neighbourhood. Flowers dry very conveniently in the lowest setting of oven or dehydrator if we don’t have patience for air drying.
Finally we pay for our convenience by harming the environment. Buy or make natural colours this year. Once it become popular again prices will come down as many business houses will take it up. Revive this wonderful tradition of showering flowers on everyone and yes include your neighbours too !!!!