This Holi, play safe with homemade herbal colours

Updated: Mar 05, 2012, 18:51 PM IST

New Delhi: Amid the riot of powdered hues and watery splashes that Holi brings, experts say people should not ignore safety issues as toxic chemical colours could bring on severe skin infections, eye injuries and other problems.

"The use of synthetic colours during Holi can cause severe irritation, dermatitis, burning, redness and also in some cases blister formation. It can also lead to irreversible pigmentation," Amit Bangia, consultant dermatologist at the Asian Institute of Medical Sciences, told IANS.

"Besides, many water colours have an alkaline base capable of causing temporary blindness and severe injuries. Colours in the form of pastes sometimes have toxic compounds mixed in a base of engine oil or other inferior quality oil," Bangia added.

Chemical colours have been in vogue for a long time, and the cost-effectiveness and easy availability make them more preferred than natural colours, say experts. But often people are not aware of their harmful effects.

But one can prepare organic colours at home.

While the best precaution remains use of natural colours, people are also advised to reduce their hours of playing Holi or take breaks when playing it at a stretch.

The festival of colours will be celebrated March 8 this year.

If you are wondering where to get natural colours to play Holi with, then here`s the home manual:

Green - Mix pure mehendi powder with some flour to get a dry green colour. When mixed with water, the paste will leave a slight orange shade on the skin. Dried and crushed gulmohar tree leaves can also be used for green colour.

Yellow - Take two spoons of turmeric powder with double the quantity of besan and mix. Flowers like amaltas, marigold, black babul can be crushed and mixed with water to get a yellow coloured paste.

Red- Use red sandalwood powder and add crushed hibiscus flowers to it.

Blue - Dried jacaranda flowers can be crushed and mixed with water or flour.

Saffon- Tesu of palash flowers soaked in water overnight. For better results, flowers can be boiled in water to get a yellowish-orange colour.

Magenta - Slice or grate one beetroot and soak in a litre of water. Boil or leave overnight for a deeper shade. Boil the peels of pink onions in half a litre of water for an orange-pink shade.

Brown- `Kattha` - catechu extracted from the acacia tree - can be mixed with water to get a brownish shade. Tea and coffee leaves can be boiled in water to get a dark brown shade.

Black - Boil dried fruits of amla in a vessel and leave overnight. Dilute with water and use.