The festival of Holi is not just restricted to India or Indians anymore; this festival of colours is celebrated all over the world with people coming together to make merry and dousing each other in vibrant hues and shades.
However, the flip side of most Holi celebrations is the damage we do to the environment, and ourselves, by using toxic dyes and colours and encouraging the rampant wastage of water. The good news is that more people are becoming waking up to this realisation in recent years, and they have been making an effort to make their Holi celebrations planet-friendly. Keen on having a more responsible, ecofriendly celebration this year? These simple tips will help you do your part.
Watch What You Burn
Holika Dahan, a ceremonial bonfire, is a festive tradition that symbolises the burning of evil and the triumph of good. But this communal celebration does more harm than good to the environment because a massive amount of wood is burnt. This means we are destroying hundreds of precious trees for this Holi tradition. Environmental NGOs are now working to big community fire instead of several smaller ones to limit the environmental backlash. An even smarter way is to use waste materials like cow dung, scraps, food waste, etc. to light the fire instead of burning down so much usable wood.
It’s Time For A Dry Holi
Many people in urban areas do not realise it, but the amount of water used to play Holi on that one day can mean a robust supply of water for those in drought-prone areas for weeks. So this year, try to give the pichkaris a break and instead go for a dry Holi. Conserving water for those who need it and taking care to not damage the planet is also in keeping with the spirit of celebrations. If you must use water, keep it to a minimum and make prior plans like covering the floors with water-resistant canvas to reduce water wastage in cleaning up after the celebrations.
Use Homemade, Eco-Friendly Colours
What would Holi be without colours? However, there is no rule that you only need to play with toxic, chemical colours that are harmful both for the environment as well as your skin and health. So let’s make an effort to go back to the good old times with safe, eco-friendly organic colours that you can make at home.
Yellow: Add a bit of turmeric powder in besan (gram flour) or rice flour.
Green: Mix dry henna and dried tulsi (basil) leaves. Another option is to make a dry powder by grinding mint, spinach, and neem leaves.
Orange: Dry marigold flowers and grind into a powder. For a wet paste of this hue, add a little water to henna leaves and grind.
Red: Powder made from dried gulmohar flowers works great. You can also make a paste out of boiled beetroot slices that have been soaked overnight.
You can get as creative as you want while making such homemade colours, as long as you are using organic materials. These are cheap, good for the skin, easy to clean off later, and cause no harm to the environment. Gather the kids in your household or even the neighbourhood, and make a project out of it. If you do not have time to make colours, you can also purchase eco-friendly ones from stores or online, after verifying the ingredients.
Organise A Community Holi
Celebrations like Holi are not meant to be enjoyed alone – get together with friends and family and play Holi on a common outdoor ground. This way, not only will it be a fun get-together, but also fewer houses will be dirtied—which means you conserve more water than that would otherwise be used in cleaning every home. For bathing, avoid wasting running water from a hose and instead store clean water in buckets beforehand. You can also plan a mehfil for the day in which everyone gathers in someone’s garden to celebrate with traditional folk songs, dance and Holi sweets. For the colour play part, a tilak Holi (celebrated by applying a mark on the forehead with colour) is an excellent choice.
Stay Clear Of Plastic
Water-filled plastic balloons have become ubiquitous not only on the day of Holi, but also on days prior to and following the festival. But this is more of a nuisance to people than a celebration, as hitting each other with plastic balloons can have adverse effects like damage to internal organs. In addition, the massive amount of plastic used (and left lying around on roads post-Holi) only harms the environment.
Spare A Thought For The Poor Animals
After almost every Holi, one can see dogs, cows, cats, and other stray animals roaming around with myriad colours all over their body. It may seem fun to some people, but it is extremely scary for these innocent beings, and can even cause health problems like skin disorders, damage to the eyes, etc. Nobody likes being doused in colour against their wishes or having a plastic water balloon being hurled at them with full force, and the same goes for animals. Make it a point to make your Holi celebrations more animal-friendly because celebrating a festival should never mean causing harm to others.
Drenching yourself and others in chemical-laden colours and pouring full buckets of perfectly usable water on people is not the only way to celebrate Holi, no matter what most Bollywood songs may portray. Follow these tips to enjoy this festival in a guilt-free, planet-friendly way.
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