By Shahnaz Husain
Since time immemorial, vegetable dyes and natural ingredients have been put to optimum use for preparing colours for Holi. They were considered not just safe, but in fact, preparing the colours with them became an integral part of the festival. Ayurvedic texts were followed for preparing these Holi colours of ancient India. Herbs, flowers, plants and grains were used, and these colours possessed no chemical constituents. “Tesu” flowers were boiled in water to obtain a fragrant, yellow coloured liquid. It had medicinal properties and helped in preventing skin problems. Similarly, colours were obtained from red “palash” flowers, henna, marigold, turmeric, pomegranate peels, beetroot, ratanjot, rose petals, red sandalwood, maize powder and “besan.”
It is distressing that the dry colours in the present day scenario contain chemicals, like mica, silica and even lead. On the other hand, water colours contain toxins like lead oxide, copper sulphate, aluminium, mercury, etc. These irritate the skin and scalp, causing allergies and dermatitis. Year after year, my advice for Holi remains unchanged, that of educating and motivating people to make simple, natural colours at home and to encourage them for celebrating an ‘Ayurvedic Holi’ with the goodness of plant power.
(Shahnaz Husain is the pioneer of Organic Beauty care and Ayurveda who has tirelessly promoted country’s ancient herbal heritage. Her company’s herbal based Gulal is hugely popular and available at the company’s various outlets pan India. Constituted of herb and floral extracts like turmeric, marigold, rose petals, rattanjot, henna, red sandalwood powder, maize powder and gram flour, the Ayurvedic kit includes flower power, white water lily cell, replenishing rehydrant lotion, Shacleanse Plus, Shahenna Plus Hair cleanser and nano Sunscreen Gel SPF 20)