Celebrate Spring with the Holi Festival

Mar 2013
Yes folks, spring is eventually coming. Here’s proof- Holi is taking place right now in India, and that’s a sure sign the weather is about to change. The festival of colors marks the beginning of this season and is celebrated with much delight by Hindus across India and the world.  Bonfires are lit the day before it begins to mark the end of the demoness Holika.  The festival is certainly one of the most colorful of celebrations in a place I fell in love with long ago for its everyday color culture. So the end of winter, the start of the harvest season and the beginning of the season of growth combined with the triumph of good over evil.  No wonder everyone gets whipped up into such a frenzy.  The dates if the festival vary from year to year depending on the appearance of the moon and the solar cycle.
Although I’ve always wanted to be in India during the festival, I’m not sure about all the throwing of colored powders, and it looks like it would be impossible to get away unscathed. You can’t be an uninvolved observer for this festival and take a back seat. 
That thought got me thinking about the powders that are at the center of all the activity.  I’ve had a bit of manufacturing experience in India, and although they’ve made great strides with the environment.  I wanted to find out more about the toxic nature of the powders.  Each of the colors has a special signifigance:
  • magenta-the color of breaking free
  • safron + orange-festivity, joy, happiness, optimism
  • blue-peace + faith
  • green-purity + harmony
  • yellow-energy + intellect
  • red-festive energy + love

When the festival was originally started, all the materials were natural and it wasn’t until the population really started to grow, that synthetics were introduced.  People started getting ill from the toxic materials that were in the powders, and now the trend is towards a much more organic approach.

Arrowroot is being used as a base for the powders.  I have had experience with this base when I was detoxing my skin for allergies, and it makes a great talc substitute.  

Tumeric, beets, henna and flower petals such as blue hibiscus, rose and jacaranda are all being used now to make the brightly colored powders. There is also a maize starch {organic galal} used as a base. I doubt that this is everywhere, but it is a step in the right direction for the most colorful of festivals to celebrate spring.