My earliest memories of Holi are from the time when I was about five. We used to live in these quarters and on Holi, all the married women would go door to door gathering everyone for the celebration at the community hall- distributing “laddoos”, and applying red “tika” and “abeer” (powdered color) to our faces. We had best of times splashing people with every color one could possibly imagine.
The celebration changed a bit once we grew a couple years older. Ours was amongst the very few non-Malayali families who lived in our locality in Kochi. My sister and I took the responsibility of enlightening people about Holi and celebrating it with full gusto. Colors weren’t really easily available, but that didn’t dampen our spirits. We decided to make our own colors. We used turmeric powder and “sindoor” for the dry colors. For the colored water, we soaked red “Krishnachura/Gulmohar” flowers, beetroot slices, and Henna Leaves overnight in lukewarm water to get red, purple and orange colored water respectively. Such fun we had. I remember how these colors never stained our skin or give us allergies or rashes.
Roll over to a few years later; I had this awful experience of being soaked in colored water dyed teal blue which was splashed from some random verandah down the street while I was out to get some medicines. Not only did it completely ruin my clothes but it left me looking like an alien for quite a couple of days. I also had terrible acne and rashes thanks to whatever was mixed in the color. That, unfortunately, kind of ruined Holi for me. I avoid moving out of my house on Holi. However, if I do have to move out I follow a few things that help me escape the horrors of the aftermath. I’m listing them here so that you could benefit from them too.
- Keep yourself safe by playing Holi only with people you know and trust.
Avoid applying colors on strangers and respect their choice if they don’t want colors on themselves. Ask people for allergies and restrict to applying only “tikaas” if you have sensitive skin. Do not attack people with water balloons. Also keep yourself safe from being attacked by awful things like rotten eggs and grease.
- Use herbal and organic colors.
Buy safe colors which are not stuffed with harmful chemicals and dangerous adulterants. Encourage people you celebrate Holi with to do the same. Use water dyed lightly with non-toxic food coloring to fill your water balloons or “pichkari”. If they are safe to eat, most likely they won’t be too harsh on your skin. Or do what I used to do as a kid, use colored petals and vegetables soaked in lukewarm water overnight to get colored water.
- Prepare yourself by liberally applying coconut oil all over your hair and body.
Coconut oil not just creates a protective shield over your skin and scalp but also gets absorbed really well into skin and nourishes it. Use body butter or petroleum jelly if you can’t apply oil.
- Apply Sunscreen, lipbalm and nail color
Add an extra layer of protection for your skin by slathering generous doses of water-proof sunscreen all over yourself. Also apply a thick coat of lip balm with SPF. Apply nail polish (men can opt for a layer of transparent polish or base coat) to protect your nails from staining.
- Wear full sleeved and old clothes.
This is pretty obvious, the more you cover yourself, the lesser the harmful chemicals will come in contact with your skin. Also wear clothes that you wouldn’t mind discarding afterwards.
- Tie your hair into a bun.
Tie a tight bun or even better wear a shower cap to protect your hair from getting damaged. Most colors tend to damage hair like crazy.
- Do not consume alcohol or “Bhaang”.
I understand people get into a party mood and tend to drink a lot but keep safe by controlling the quantity. If you must, then do not consume both together. Even worse is when people tend to consume plenty of sweets. Drink responsibly and in the company of people you blindly trust. People tend to become way too enthusiastic during Holi.
- Dust off the dry colors first and then take a shower.
If you are playing a dry holi and have only used dry powder colors, then it is a good idea to dust off the color from your skin and clothes first and then remove the rest with soap and lukewarm water. Drenching yourself with water directly increases the risk of staining.
- Do not take frequent showers.
Holi comes at a time when the weather has a mind of its own, causing people to fall ill frequently. Do not take frequent showers after every spell of playing with colors. Complete all the rounds of applying colors and getting drenched yourself and then take a good long shower to get rid of all the gunk. Taking too many showers will not just increase the risk of you catching a bad cold but will also strip your skin of its natural moisture.
- Be careful and step cautiously.
Enjoy the time you spend running around smearing people with colors but step carefully to avoid slipping and hurting yourself.
So those are the few tips which will make sure your Holi is pleasurable and safe. Have a very happy Holi!!
Swarnali Das is currently wrapping up her MA in English from the University of Calcutta. She runs the blog, Dreams and Drama, along with her pen-pal turned bestie, Arpita Mahapatra. She is also a book reviewer for A lot of Pages and a blogger forHalf-Baked Beans. Along with Aniesha Brahma, she belongs to blogger fraternity of Four Seasons as well.