Holi colori!

Bonfires, luscious color and a wild party
The Hindu spring festival of Holi is upon us. Known as the Festival of Colors, Holi is primarily observed in India and Nepal. In many areas, it lasts two to four eye-popping days.

Holi is celebrated at the end of the winter season on the last full moon of the lunar month. It celebrates the beginning of the new season – welcoming spring’s abundant, luscious colors and bidding a farewell to the drab of winter.

Festival of Colors, Happy Holi, Hindu celebrations, seasonal holidays, eco-friendly holiday trimmings, spring celebrations

Over time, the focus of Holi has changed to a more secular celebration rather than a religious one. Although prayers are shared – camaraderie, delicacies, and a general sense of mischief take over as revelers douse each other with brightly-colored powders and water. Many participants start the festivities with a bonfire on the eve of Holi – and party hard.

But the festival changes with each successive generation. Traditionally, one aspect of Holi was intended to break down class barriers, uniting society for the festival’s duration, but many say that mores have changed its hue. Urban celebrations are insular rather than inclusive, and liquor replaces the traditional thandai and bhang (a mixture of milk and sugar, various seeds, spices, plants). Rural celebrations tend to retain more of the centuries’ old merriment: Traditional food, drink and mayhem. Holi activities vary from region to region and economic changes have greatly modified the scope of the festivities.

Making an eco-friendly Holi
In earlier times, Holi colors were prepared from the bright flowers of trees that blossomed during spring. They provided the raw material for the brilliant Holi shades. Many of these trees also had medicinal properties, so the dyes were actually beneficial to the skin.

With the disappearance of trees in urban areas, and the commercialization of Holi, these natural colors were replaced by industrial dyes. A 2001 study on the marketed pastes, dry colors and water colors revealed that these three forms of chemical Holi colors were toxic.

There’s a great movement to encourage celebrants to move from toxic colors to eco-friendly, natural substitutes. Here’s how it’s done.

Wishing all celebrants a happy + colorful Holi.

Images: 1/Bonfire > Flickr image: By wonker; 2/Powdered faces > Rafiq Maqbool/Associated Press; 3/Powders

Leave a Reply