Holi is one of the oldest festivities finding its origin in Northern India. This festival of colours is being celebrated in the Hindu culture for many centuries now and has been a part of several religious, mythological, and literary texts.
While the modern celebrations find a predominant presence of chemically produced dyes and industrial powders, original festivity revolved around organic extracts such as that of turmeric, tesu flowers, beetroot, saffron, marigold, and chrysanthemum~ both wet and dry.
As several scientific studies point towards the catastrophic effects of harsh chemical colours, ranging from mild irritation to cancerous infestations, people are turning to the traditional ways of celebrating Holi with organic and skin-friendly colours.
With the rising awareness and consciousness regarding the urgency to switch to organic colours, many not-for-profit groups, social organisations, entrepreneurs, and even laboratories, have taken it upon themselves to commercially produce and sell organic colours. These skin-friendly alternatives have been replicating the traditional formulas and are using dried flowers and vegetable extracts for the same. Find below some of these organisations and catch hold of some of the safest colours to enjoy your festivity.
Indian Startups For Organic Colours
1. Earth Inspired
What if you could buy safe and organically produced colours and also support a cause-based and community-driven enterprise? Earth Inspired is one such Delhi-based community that brings to the market organic products made by women, young entrepreneurs, the disabled, prisoners and community enterprises.
Currently, it is associated with Antarkranti, a prisoner reformation and rehabilitation programme under which it sells an exquisite range of organic products made by released, as well as, incarcerated prisoners. The production and selling of organic Holi colours is one of the seasonal livelihood activities which fall under Antarkranti's Vocational Training & Livelihood Generating Program.
This not only helps in training the prisoners with skills that could come in handy post their release but also helps them to support their families financially even when in prison.
The herbal gulal is made using flower petals, mint leaves, turmeric, maize starch, and edible food colouring. “Even if these colours accidentally enter someone's mouth or eyes, there won't be a problem. They are all made with an edible base,” assures Yash Maniar, a close associate of Antarkranti.
Have you ever given a thought to the fate of tonnes of flowers used in religious ceremonies and institutions? Well, it certainly crossed the innovative minds of Phool, an unconventional organisation based in Uttar Pradesh that collects these discarded flowers from temples and turns them into incense, vermicompost, organic packaging material and vibrant colours.
The organisation claims to collect as much as 8.4 tonnes of floral waste from the temples of Uttar Pradesh on a daily basis and has had international eyes on it ever since. Phool says that it has “flowercycled” more than 2,753 metric tonnes of floral waste to date and each package prevents the dumping of nearly 1.25 kgs of floral waste into the Ganges.
Besides “flowercycling” the organisation is also popular for providing a livelihood to many local women who collect and upcycle and transform these floral wastes into impressive sellouts. The entire process is done manually, making it even more sustainable.
The plight of waste pickers in India, especially female ones, is no breaking news. Falling on the weaker and demeaned side of the social, financial, as well as, gender spectrum, these women have been marginalized for long.
One of the popular social enterprises that has taken it upon themselves to help these women turn into skilled and financially independent artisans is Gulemeher, an all-women social cooperative based in Delhi. Gulmeher offers a wide range of stationery, home décor essentials, organic colours and other eco-friendly products, handcrafted by these women artisans from floral and green wastes.
“We have four soothing pastel shades of pink made from roses and beetroot, yellow, made from haldi (turmeric) and marigold flowers with added lemon peel for the fragrance, green, made using leafy vegetables like spinach with added cardamom for fragrance and orange that is made using colour theory by mixing pink and yellow,” explains Vidwata Singh, Gulmeher's chief designer.
“The process of making these colours is a tedious one as we aim to preserve the natural facets like fragrance and colour of the various ingredients while placing a very strict check on the quality and hygiene of the colours produced. All the colours are handcrafted as a large part of the process is manual,” she further assures.
One of the most challenging divides in India is between the rural talent pool and the markets. Gaatha is a Gujarat-based project, which aims to fill this gap and bring together the wider profitable markets and rural artisan settlements from various nooks and corners of India; an interlinking bridge between both.
Gaatha works in close association with more than a hundred rural organisations and groups. One can easily find a wide range of handcrafted apparels, accessories, decor essentials, stationery items, craft supplies and colours made by select artisans.
For Holi, the project offers luxurious gift hampers filled with organically produced colours and other gift items. Don't forget to splash the festivity with these handmade luxuries!
5. Green Practices
As the name suggests, Green Practices is an environmental organisation working towards the upcycling of waste, rainwater harvesting, promotion and utilization of solar energy, and making environmentally friendly products such as tableware, menstrual hygiene essentials, organic Holi colours, chemical-free Lord Ganesha idols, etc. It also offers organic food items such as juicy organic mangoes, grown naturally in the total absence of pesticides and other chemicals.
For Holi, this Ahmedabad-based organisation offers skin-friendly colours made from corn starch, herbs, flowers, organic turmeric, and fruits and vegetable extracts. All the colours are free from heavy metals including mica, silica, lead oxide and sulphite. Needless to say, they do not cause any skin irritation or rashes and are easy to get rid of from the skin. These organic colours can be ordered online and are eligible for free home delivery across the country.
Also Read: Holi 2021