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You are here : home > Indian Culture > Indian Festivals and occassions > Herbal Holi

Herbal Holi


"Scars I bear,
Till date make me scared,
Colours I shared,
Have made me visually impaired"

Little did ten-year old Deepak know that the colours of joy splashed by his friends would turn his life colourless. His world collapsed when even after several operations his doctors could not restore his vision.

Come Holi, the Hindu festival of colours, and many people confine themselves, even lock themselves up to run away from the scourge of synthetic colours. Most holi colours available in the market contain oxidized metals or industrial dyes mixed with engine oil, which are dangerous for the skin. The black colour, for instance, is made of lead oxide, green from copper sulphate, silver from aluminium bromide and red from mercury sulphite. These chemicals can cause allergy, temporary blindness, renal failure, skin cancer and even paralysis. It can even prove fatal. The dangerous side-effects of holi colours can ruin the spirit of the festival.

But, now with herbal colours there is hope that holi will be played in a healthy manner. These eco-friendly powders and pastes are natural extracts from flowers, vegetables and minerals. Colours can be made from petals of rose, marigold, hibiscus and bougainvillea, sandalwood, henna, tesu, turmeric, multani mitti, spinach and indigo, to name a few.

Would you like to create your very own eco-friendly holi colours at home? Here are some handy home preparations:

Red colour:

Rose petals
  • Take some red roses and separate its petals. If petals are wet than spread them on some newspaper or on tissue paper. Remember, all petals dry easily if exposed to direct sunlight. Once the rose petals are completely dried than you can keep them in an airtight bottle. Make sure that you grind these petals soon and do not keep them for a long time. Make it into a powder, which you can use as gulal (red colour).
"Colour me red,
Tears I will not shed,
Since roses are spread"

You can even make rose water from this by soaking these petals overnight in water. Do not soak it more than this else it will start rotting. Rose water can be used on day-to-day basis too by mixing in bathing water or can be sprayed as a deodorant. It is also soothing for the eyes.


Orange colour:

Henna or Mehndi leaves
  • Take dried or fresh mehndi leaves and grind them to get a powder. Mix it with water to make it into the paste. Don't be surprised if you get a Thank you note from your friend for colouring his hair in a natural way.
"No one will shun,
From this colour of warmth and fun,
So now you can pour orange in tons."

  • Mix rose water with sandalwood powder and add a little turmeric. This will not only colour your skin but also liven your tired face.

Yellow colour:

Marigold flowers

  • Soak 25 marigold flowers in one litre of water. Boil it till it exudes a fragrance. Leave it overnight. You will get rich wet yellow colour.
"Chemicals are out,
Flowers are in,
Yellow Marigold will glow on your skin."


  • By drying the petals of yellow chrysanthemum, various shades of yellow can be prepared in powder and liquid form, the former by grinding, the latter by adding water.

Green colour:

Gulmohar leaves, spinach, coriander, mint
  • These leaves need to be dried first. Coriander leaves, mint and spinach dries even if kept in a refrigerator properly wrapped in a newspaper or in airtight bags. Once they are dried they can be ground in a mixer to get a fine powder.

"What powder, what cream,
Colour my face with natural green"

These colours are safe and do not have any side-effects. So, bid farewell to synthetic, unhygienic colours and play holi with a renewed zest with herbal colours.

Happy Holi. Herbal Holi!

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