So it was Holi just a day ago. What fun! Meeting with family and friends, having festive snacks, music, dance, laughter, kids playing around bringing nostalgia for the older ones, Holi parties, colourful faces, colourful clothes, throwing coloured water at each other, throwing Gulal in the air, washing it all off in water… wait. Wait! In water? Swimming pools and tanks, right?
No. I mean natural water bodies. Let’s not talk about how inhaling these chemicals affect you or how they harm the soil. Let’s talk about people celebrating Holi with coloured water and Gulal near lakes, ponds and other water bodies. These chemicals conveniently labelled as herbal were all over on social media stories, boomerangs, and pictures. Beer bottles in one hand and Gulal in the other, people partying near beautiful water bodies got the most likes! Educated, aware people were dancing on Holi beats and throwing Gulal in the air (which by the Law of Gravity is surely to fall in the waterbody and flow away into frogs and fish and turtles).
Sorry, not sorry! Bura na mano Holi Hai!
Many Indian festivals like Holi are celebrated globally. The sheer number of people can make a positive or negative impact. We can prevent a lot of harm to our planet by doing things the right way instead of embracing shortcuts. But why don’t we do so?
It was Just One Day!
Maybe for someone it was once in a while, or just once. It was so for thousands of others too! Do we care to think how our lack of sincere effort, even for a day, harms the environment? To think about it, this mess was preventable.
But it was Herbal!
Are you sure it was? Read the components of these mass herbal Gulal and colours. You will be surprised to see many of these labels are misleading you. A genuine herbal gulal is made of cornstarch and food dyes. Just reading the word ‘herbal’ is not enough! Major holi parties see heaps of Gulal placed in the party area, with no information of what kind of Gulal it is.
Talking about herbal, has anyone tested these for environmental safety?
What the hell should we do?
Have you read about the original holi colours? Traditional holi is celebrated with pigments from vegetables, leaves, and flowers. The coloured water is prepared by dipping flowers like ‘Tesu’ in water for a day or two. Leaves from trees like neem are used. Chandan and turmeric are used. All of these are good for your health and our environment. In Indian culture, even Rangoli was originally prepared with grains like rice and spices like turmeric as an offering to the insects! They are a vital part of our nature too. Offcourse, if you can’t do this, reading the components of herbal products is a must.
Why write this after Holi? It’s done now.
Before Holi, I thought the options I have presented were a common knowledge and that smartphones have made people environmentally conscious across the world. After seeing many stories with clean water bodies getting polluted with vague herbal (or simply chemical) products, the reality pinched me. Why are we partially-sincere towards making a better future? Why do we throw logic out of the window during celebrations?
India is a land full of festivals, and in each festival, we can embrace our traditional respect for nature instead of leaving a trail of trash and pollution behind us! Holi may have gone, but festivals like Rangpanchami are on their way. Can we keep our awareness intact and do the right thing? Can we embrace our traditional love and respect for nature?
If we can do that, I think the butterfly effect will do rest of the good work.
Originally published in: Perspicere, TOI Blog