End of February or the beginning of spring season in India marks the countdown for the most awaited Holi celebration. This is one of the few festivals that still carry the legacy of traditional way of fun & frolic, splashing of colours, bursting of water balloons and the thrilling slogan of “Holi Hai”.
Since ages, people have engaged in plays, pranks, folk songs and music along with daytime celebration with splash of wet colours and evening with dash of dry colours. In older days, spring flowers, spices, berries, and plant-based products were used to make colours, but these days chemical products are blatantly added in the colours. To make them look brighter, inexpensive toxic agents like lead oxide, mercury sulphite, mica and copper sulphate are used which are hazardous for human body. They can potentially damage our skin, eyes, lungs, and hair.
Common allergies and conditions caused due to toxic Holi colours
The dangerous side effects of Holi colours are sometimes immediately apparent while many times surface slowly. Below are a few allergic conditions and their symptoms one should never ignore.
- Eczema: It is one of the common outcomes of chemical-laden colours characterized with scaly, red, and inflamed skin. One can also notice flaking and blistering of the skin that causes intense itching and burning.
- Dermatitis: Due to the harmful colours, the skin becomes red, itchy, and painful. Blisters can also be seen sometimes.
- Rhinitis: When you inhale a powder colour by mistake, the nasal membrane swells up making you sneeze uncontrollably. Nasal discharge, itching, and congestion are other common symptoms.
- Asthmatic attack: The colours can go inside your airway causing severe damage or flaring up of an already existing condition of asthma. Those who never had asthma can also have acute breathing problems, wheezing, and shortness of breath.
Chemical colours going inside our body through skin pores, mouth or nose can cause toxicity of the body. It is strictly suggested to stay safe from such colours, engage with others sensibly and find other alternatives which can let us enjoy the festival in its true essence.
A few tips for safe Holi
- On Holi eve, keep yourself and your kids at a safe distance from the Holi bonfire.
- Avoid non-organic bright green, dark green, black, and red colours as they contain more harmful ingredients.
- Prefer organic or home-made colours.
- Use sunglasses while playing colours and remove your contact lenses while venturing outdoors.
- Never use spirits, kerosene, or petrol to remove the stains as they are hard on the skin and can cause skin damage.
- If you experience any skin irritation, immediately wash off with cold water. To sooth the skin, you can use calamine solution or aloe gel.
- People with asthma or dust allergy should avoid playing with dry colours.
- Stay hydrated! Drink water before going outside, during the play and after regular intervals. It will dilute the toxic effect of colours, if they enter your body.
- Do not forget to rejuvenate your skin and hair after Holi with proper moisturization, hair oiling, spa and home-made packs.
- Do not forcibly engage sick people, kids, and others not interested in the play.
- Respect our natural resources and avoid wasting too much water for fun.
- Throwing colours on animals is extreme cruelty as they cannot wash off themselves and the colours remain on their skin causing long-term damage.
Protection from sun in Holi
Since “play-with-colours” is always done outdoors in the sun, it can have detrimental effect on our skin. Exposure to harmful UV radiation in the presence of colours sticking to the skin can make our skin dry, dull and tanned.
Here are a few preventive tips:
- Apply a SPF 20 or above sunscreen 20 minutes prior to going out.
- If your sunscreen does not have moisturizer and you are prone to dry skin, you need to do a little extra. First apply the sunscreen and then after a few minutes, apply the moisturizer.
- Apply a good body lotion or cream to all the sun-exposed part of the body.
- Apply a conditioner or a hair serum before going out in the sun to play colours
- Apply some coconut oil on the scalp and along the length of the hair. This will not only protect your hair from sun but also from colours.
- Go out with tied hairs, but if wet colour or water goes inside, let your hair loose.
How to prepare organic colours for Holi?
It’s pretty easy and quick! Take a few spoons of rice flour and add your choice of food color in it. Put a little water to make a thick paste out of it. Allow the paste to dry immediately in the sun or else it might get sticky and filthy. Once dried, grind it in the mixer grinder and use the fine powder as Holi color or Gulal.
People also prepare dry Holi colours by sun-drying the leaves of rose and grinding it with clean, washed and dried rice grains. Similarly, other coloured flowers and green leaves can also be used.
Enjoy the festival of colours with health and happiness!