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Khelo HOLI Naturally!

Updated: Sep 22, 2021

HOLI is a festival of togetherness, spirituality and friendship celebrated with colours and adds excitement and joy to our lives. A frolic festival of spring, that culminates with sweet moments, colourful memories to cherish forever by painting the canvas of life, with the most beautiful kaleidoscopic shades of the indradhanush. Violet–Indigo–Blue–Green–Yellow–Orange–Red.



Traditionally, HOLI hues came from plant sources, but with time synthetic chemicals took over, which made the gulal (holi colours) brighter and cheaper. Sadly, these chemical based colours were not only harsh but also, toxic in some cases! These chemicals are responsible for causing rashes, dermatitis, eye allergy, temporary blindness and even cancer. So, why do we still buy these chemicals? Most of the times this question is answered by stating that they are not costly. But, if you look closely the chemicals, like mercury sulphate, copper sulphate, aluminium bromide, when added to holi colours take a very expensive toll on your health.


Herbal, natural colours are made with ingredients like turmeric and henna. What if I aid you can make holi colours on your own, in your own houses? I will. Let me show you how, because I believe that there is nothing better than making your own homemade HOLI colours, with ingredients freely available from your kitchen counter.


There is no end to experimentation when you start creating different hues of holi colours, the more you do, the better it gets. For many years now, I have been making and sharing four homemade HOLI colours, which include Red, Blue, Yellow and Green, with family and friends. We’ve been enjoying the spirit of this festival with chemical free colours.


Yellow gulal- To start with the yellow gulal is my favourite, since it is prepared in a manner similar to none other than the traditional recipe of UPTAN that we use for glowing skin. To prepare this, add five parts of BESAN (Chickpea flour) and one part of HALDI (Turmeric powder) into a bowl. Mix it well and leave it in the open to oxidise. The air turns the dull yellow mixture to bright YELLOW sunshine in couple of days.

For the other three, I use MAIDA (white flour) as a base. Traditionally, it is used with creamy milk and acts as an excellent body cleanser that brightens the skin. With use, I have also noticed, that when it gets wet, it does not allow the colours mixed with it, to stick to the skin. To prepare the Red, Blue and Green gulal, simply mix the respective colours with MAIDA in equal proportion or you may add a little more of the colour to make it deeper.


Red gulal- It is extremely easy to make the red gulal. All you need is maida and roli. Simply add ROLI (Kumkum / Sindoor), a powder we use in temples, on our forehead- Tilak, and maida to a bowl. Mix them well and your gulal is ready. The quality of the roli purchased must be taken care of.



Blue gulal- NEEL powder has been used for years now to whiten and brighten our white clothes. After a wash we just dip the white cloth into the NEEL water and put it straight on a clothing line for the sun to dry without even rinsing it. So, I guess it’s safe for our skin, right? Bingo! Just mix the NEEL powder (not liquid, as it gets clumped) with MAIDA in equal proportions. Voilà! Your BLUE gulal is ready.


Green gulal- And for GREEN, use the tried and tested MEHANDI powder to get a light GREEN gulal. No, it will not colour you skin when it gets wet. Remember, MAIDA is there and it will act as a protective barrier.

When making colours at home you can add more or less colouring agents and produce varying shades of it. If you add less of roli to maida, you will get pink. Yes, these will not be as bright as artificial, chemical based gulal but, there is no doubt that you will not spend hours in washing up which, in fact is also a way for you to contribute in the conservation of water. Additionally, the natural, homemade gulal will end up making your skin brighter. Instead of the colours, you will be the one that glows and shines.


So, Khelo HOLI naturally, but do follow the COVID safety precautions 24X7. Enjoy the festivity with close family, friends and avoid big gatherings as far as possible.


-Nita Ganguly An Educator, Humanist, Motivator, Attitude Changer, Author, Climate Reality Leader-Mentor and National Coordinator- Waste Management (TCRP-India). Winner of several National and State awards. A Fulbright scholar- 2009 and a TEDx speaker- 2017. She authored two illustrated children’s story books: ‘POLY TRAP’ and ‘Hello Earth…here we come’, that sensitises young minds to be ECO-RESPONSIBLE.

In 2008, she was certified as a Climate Reality leader by the Nobel Laureate and the former US Vice President, Mr Al Gore and The Climate Reality Project. Ever since, she has not looked back and has reached out to both defence personals and civil societies including the Rag Pickers. Khelo HOLI Naturally Workshops: For students, MH Roorkee


For Family welfare, AMC (CC) Lucknow

For ASHA school, Chandimandir

For Nursing students, The BD Petit Parsee Hospital, Mumbai





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