It’s that time of the year again! Holi – India’s much-beloved festival is here!
Holi is a Hindu harvest/ spring festival that is held in honor of Lord Krishna and it is typically celebrated in Feb or March.
This is festival of fun and frolic, where friends and family gather to smear and dunk each other in color. Parents, kids, toddlers, grandparents – people of all ages voluntarily let themselves be colored and happily at that.
But here’s a thought – Are such colors safe for the environment, let alone on our skin?
Decoding The Gulaal
Gulaal – as the dry colors are typically called, have been declared toxic for many years. And yet, we still use it widely during Holi.
Scientifically gulal is typically a mix of two main components – a base that is made out of silica or asbestos. And the colorant, typically a heavy metal which is usually heavily toxic. Gulaal is a very fine powder which can go straight into your lungs and stay there to cause severe infections and respiratory distress.
Here’s a list of known side effects of Holi colors –
- Asthma: Smearing yourself with Gulaal for several hours in a day can result in asthma. Gulaal is also a prime trigger for respiratory distress in folks who are already diagnosed with asthma. For several days after Holi, the powder still hangs in the air making it very difficult for asthmatic patients.
- Eye infections: The fine powder will easily irritate the delicate top layer of your eye and could even leave permanent damages.
- Rashes: Holi colors are easily lodged in the pores of your skin and scalp, causing rashes. It might take a few days and a thorough scrubbing to get them out. Keep in mind that some rashes leave nasty scars.
Here’s a detailed list of what metal makes up each color.
- Red – Mercury sulphate
- Black – Lead oxide
- Green – copper sulphate
- Silver – Aluminium bromide
- Purple – Chromium iodide
Similar to Gulaal, the wet colors are filled with harmful chemicals. Random use of these wet colors causes a lot of wastage of water too!
A Holi That Won’t Leave A Negative Footprint
Because you are reading this article and because you’ve read this far, we’re assuming that you are interested in an eco-friendly Holi this year. Here are ways in which you can have a healthy Holi.
1. Organic Or DIY colors:
Back in the day when Holi was invented, they depended on natural dyes and colors so not only was Holi environment-friendly, it was also beneficial in some ways. You can take inspiration from that and make your own colors. Turmeric+besan powder for yellow, beetroot juice for red and a host of other options are available.
A simple google search will yield many recipes for DIY Holi colors. And if you really don’t have the time to make colors for yourself, buy colors that are labelled organic. But please make sure that you read through the composition and ingredients mentioned on the packet. There are a few varieties of colors which are also being made from flowers. You can also check them out in the market.
2. Dry Holi To Save Water
All major Indian cities are facing scarcity of water and water reserves are drying up due to increased consumption and pollution. So it is the right time to start thinking about switching to dry Holi which could otherwise potentially waste several metric tonnes of water in a single day in the name of celebration.
3. Holika Dahan Can Say Bye
Burning wood doused with fuel for the Holi bonfire saturates the air around us with by-products of combustion and soot, both known causes of respiratory infection and even pneumothorax.
4. No Water Balloons Either
To honor the idea of dry Holi, why don’t we give up water balloons as well? There is barely any fun in being pelted with rubber balloons filled with water. It could be seriously painful for the younger kids. We can always come up with nicer ways to have fun. This Holi, let’s pass on the water balloons too.
5. Flower Holi Are The New Thing
Very rare, but it is steadily becoming popular. For folks who just cannot skip the color and vibrancy of Holi, flower Holis is the next new thing. Throw petals on each other, squeeze out their stains if you must. But on any given day, flowers will be a much kinder albeit expensive way to celebrate Holi. They are not only biodegradable, they also offer many other perks like no plastic packaging, no particulate material in the air, fewer allergies (as long as you use the petals alone and not the stalk and stamen) and much more!
Holi Is Almost Here, Start Churning Out Ideas!
There’s a surge of activity in ADDAs all over the country in the days leading up to Holi. If you live in an apartment complex and are looking for ways to bring the residents together to organize an eco-friendly Holi, then start a conversation in your ADDA now, and start discussing ideas!
ADDA is an awesome platform for residents and MCs to connect and come up with ideas on how to celebrate special occasions like Holi.
Tell us in the comments if you have more ideas, which you want to share. Advance Holi greetings to you! Cheers!