Reviving Green Traditions – Green Holi

Most of us now know the dangers of chemicals in Holi colours.  A tip  for Green  Holi this year. May be you are an eco-nut and will use natural colours this Holi but who will benefit…your neighbours. Because you won’t apply to yourself. To spread awareness gift your neighbours little pouches of homemade natural colours as a gift few days before Holi.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Careless wastage-

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 !!!!

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A physicist turned green living advocate.

7 thoughts on “Reviving Green Traditions – Green Holi

    • 22 March, 2016 at 3:37 pm

      Thanks Maniparna, We too have the so called organic or natural colours but the lack of stringent
      norms and standard analytical protocols I feel if we dry few flowers for ourselves we can be sure to have safe holi.
      And yes give it to neighbours too. HAPPY HOLI!

  • 23 March, 2016 at 9:59 am

    I remember how my nani use to soak Tesu flowers in the garden pond cleaned for the occasion

    • 23 March, 2016 at 10:01 am

      Thanks. Alas we can only write about such beautiful memories now unless we do something.

  • 24 March, 2016 at 10:27 pm

    People across various parts of our country are going through serious water crisis. Again Holi is one of our main festivals which I feel should be celebrated with full enthusiasm.

    So it makes sense not to use those harmful chemicals which are not only tough to wash away but also harmful to the skin, as you have mentioned here.

    Natural colors are the need of the hour.

    Thank you

    • 24 March, 2016 at 10:30 pm

      Thanks do share your views with us too


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