Holi – celebrate it differently this time

Environment has taken centre stage in 2015 and with the world meeting COP21 at Paris in September emphasizing the necessity for aims and goals for a host of issues that threaten to hasten the pace of degradation in the quality of life, to be addressed emphatically and in cohesion by all countries of the world. In fact, a memorandum has been agreed upon and an agreement for compliance signed wholeheartedly by most nations.

As inheritors of the planet the current generation needs to contribute towards this effort by doing as much as possible by way of implementing, propagating and educating, plans and schemes that would immediately address the issue of halting degradation to the environment in their respective neighbourhoods.

The Indian festival Holi is one very big opportunity to show the way.

Degradation to the environment takes place in the following ways.

  • In the use of toxic chemicals as colors for playing Holi.
  • In the burning of huge quantities of wood for the Holika Dahan fire.
  • In the use of lots of water both with colors and in splashing over people everywhere.

Harmful Effects of Chemical Colours
Researchers had come with a paper on the harmful effects of Holi colors used in various cities and towns.

Color Chemical Health Effects
Black Lead oxide Renal Failure
Green Copper Sulphate Eye Allergy, Puffiness and temporary blindness
Silver Aluminium Bromide Carcinogenic
Blue Prussian Blue Contract Dermatitis
Red Mercury Sulphite Highly toxic can cause skin cancer

Make your own Holi colours
Holi festival lovers will be thrilled to know that it is possible to make simple natural colors in one’s own kitchen. Here are some very simple recipes to make natural colours:

Color Method of Preparation
Yellow 1) Mix turmeric (haldi) powder with chick pea flour (besan)
2) Boil Marigold or Tesu flowers in water
Yellow liquid color Soak peels of pomegranate (Anar) overnight.
Deep Pink Slice a beetroot and soak in water
Orange – red paste Henna leaves (mehndi) can be dried, powdered and mixed with water.
Red Flowers of Parijat (coral tree) and flame of the forest (kesu)

The biggest advantage of using these colors of nature is that they are skin friendly and hence would cause no harm to the recipients in color play.

If one finds it difficult to get those colors one can take a little pain to seek out people who do manufacture these eco friendly colors.

The ill effects of the Holi bonfire

The burning of fuel wood to create the bonfire for Holika Dahan presents another serious environmental problem. There was a time when wood the fast depleting resource was collected just to light the Holi fire for Holika Dahan or the burning of the waste in our lives symbolically. So old things were heaped and thrown into the fire as a gesture of having done so. But factually wood was being consumed each year in large quantities for this ritual without grasping the tremendous loss both in terms of wastage of precious fuel and also polluting the environment with the smoke generated. The system of bonfires is still prevalent but reduced to an extent.

A solution for this is the lighting of small symbolic fires using branches and twigs and waste material other than wood.

Collective celebrations of the Holika Dahan to reduce the burning of wood and also foster a better festive spirit.

The ill effects of the Holi bonfireholika2

The burning of fuel wood to create the bonfire for Holika Dahan presents another serious environmental problem. There was a time when wood the fast depleting resource was collected just to light the Holi fire for Holika Dahan or the burning of the waste in our lives symbolically. So old things were heaped and thrown into the fire as a gesture of having done so. But factually wood was being consumed each year in large quantities for this ritual without grasping the tremendous loss both in terms of wastage of precious fuel and also polluting the environment with the smoke generated. The system of bonfires is still prevalent but reduced to an extent.

A solution for this is the lighting of small symbolic fires using branches and twigs and waste material other than wood.

Collective celebrations of the Holika Dahan to reduce the burning of wood and also foster a better festive spirit.

Water conservation in such trying times

Recent years have seen water shortage in urban and semi-urban areas due to the excessive growth in population due to increased mortality, migration from villages and a host of other factors that contribute to the excessively inconvenient situations of drinking water available once or twice a week in large sections of cities and towns. This has pre-empted the idea of rain water conservation and re-changing of bore wells. But with  insufficient rainfall over several years in large pockets of the country has given warning signs of worse to follow if water is not saved or is wasted.

Holi has always been playing with colors and over time wet colors have been in use a plenty. Splashing plain or colored water with large buckets on people around has also become a major source of entertainment. This again followed by a lot of water to get rid of the colors that have stuck on faces and bodies of the Holi revelers. Truly a major source of concern especially in such period of acute shortage and a worsening situation.

People could play with mud as in rural areas, light colors of gulal and eco-friendly substances which would not harm the skin, nor require much water to wash them away. Quite a reduction it would be in the consumption of water even for a day. Plus it would create the added reduction in the use of chemical dyes

If we all unite in our own small ways to create the feeling that we shall be doing positive things for the safeguard of the environment and the preservation of fuels and precious resources like water, we could be creating a revolution of sorts in our immediate neighbourhoods that would become a collective movement over cities, towns, nations and ultimately the world.

Post author

if there is something that she does not know about Bollywood, it is not worth knowing - is what she always quotes. Grown up on Neeta's Natter of Stardust fame she eats, breathes and lives Bollywood in all her wakeful hours and dreams about it in the others she is not. No wonder she has become an encyclopedia on Bollywood and its colourful crowd. Fashion lover too, she models her clothes along the lines of the fashionistas and femme fatales'of the film industry and she is fondly teased with the chant "ticket to Bollywood" whenever she playfully imitates a ramp walk. Our window to the big screen, the sections on films and fabrics are hers to entertain us all with her filmy stuff. If you wish to know who's moving with whom and who's not you may venture into notpraachinprachi@unnatisilk.com